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Department in June 1988. 



TACOMA — VOICES FROM THE PAST 



Pierce County 


A BOOK OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED 
BY THE PIERCE COUNTY COMMITTEE 
FOR THE WASHINGTON STATE 
CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION 

Donations for pub! ication from 

Exchange Club 
Historic Tacoma 

The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation 
Tacoma Branch - National League of American 
Pen Women 

Friends of the Library of the Washington 
State Historical Society 


Proceeds from sales to be donated to the 
Washington State Historical Society 


INTRODUCTION 


The pieces in this mosaic have various aspects. 
They refract light in different ways. A few are 
little gems, professionally cut, worthy of being 
displayed by themselves. Some are of less rare 
material, rough-hewn and unsophisticated, but re- 
flecting the glows of ordinary life. Assembled 
they merge into a group portrait of a community, a 
work unlike anything that could be done by an in- 
dividual . 

Some accounts preserve moments of unique experi- 
ence. Others remind us of the commonality of our 
response to a view, an event, a person. 

In these sketches we sense the way in which it 
was different to grow up in Old Town as a Slav ra- 
ther than as a Finn; what it was like to live on 
North Second instead of on McKinley Hill. And we 
remember things not described like shinnying up the 
pole beside the basement gym at the old Lowell 
school or sliding down the circular chute in fire 
drills at Stadium. 

One catches the feel of South Tacoma Way when it 
was a link in the Pacific Highway, and of Titlow 
Beach when it aspired to rival Hollywood. We 
learn, too, of the mixture of East and West in the 
lives of the Japanese who worked in St. Paul & Ta- 
coma's mill on the boot. 

These gathered fragments remind us not only of 
how Tacoma was but of how we wanted it to be. Even 
the most commonplace accounts are touched with the 
sense of aspirations shared. 

Murray Morgan 


1 


DEDICATION 


HISTORY-GATHERING DAYS AT THE 
WASHINGTON STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

By Amel ia Haller 

Spices of memories flood inside: 
China dolls in backyards; 
shops along Pacific Avenue; 
triangles of cheese 
sliced from yellow wheels; 
canoes and boats bowing 
to cities, to islands; 
trains over and under mountains; 
horses, then cars to hurry a city. 

Relics overflow the rooms 

but the chill of stone and marble 

warms with pieces of our lives. 

A third floor window outlines 
Stadium High School where bricks 
fashion castle walls 
that rise to fantasy turrets. 

The football grid covers 
a mud-filled Old Woman's Gulch. 

Below the field 

Amtrak wails an old wanderer's song 
ships await their turns to unload 
and hoist on cargoes; 
sails of bent colors catch the wind 
glide above schooners and boats 
embedded in Puyallup River mud. 
Hills of Tacoma rise 
above Commencement Bay; 
long steps jigsaw upward. 


In this place we grew as the city grew, 
wrote to friends and relatives: 

"Come to this land. 

Mountains pierce the clouds; 
waters reach the sea; green, 
green are grass and trees; 
heather blooms in December." 

"Here Indians fish salmon, 
here they meet in Potlatch, 
their prayers float above Tahoma, 
here they chant heart and death." 

As immigrants we fled from Norseland, 
Ireland, England, Wales; 
from China and Africa; 

Homelands too many to name. 

And still we come: 

Vietnam, Lebanon, Korea, Guatemala, 
Cambodia, Cuba, Mexico, 
our feet fasten homeland soil 
to Tacoma earth. 

This city, our city: 
weal th-of- the- world 
people, 

diverse people, 
holding-on people, 
keeping-the-faith people, 
up-from-the-bottom people. 


Old dreams not forgotten 
but forged in new land. 


AUTHORS 


Katheren Armatas 
Angel ine Bennett 
J. Smith Bennett 
Cecelia Svinth Carpenter 
Mary Etta Doubleday 
Robert Doubleday 
Terry Grant 
Amelia Haller 
Eunice Huffman 
Dick Jackman 
Phyllis Kaiser 
Jing Chuan Ling 


Wesla MacArthur 
Charlotte Plummer Medlock 
Doris Morisset 
Mary Olson 
Gladys Para 
Madeline A. Robinson 
Wilma Snyder 
Fred Stiegler 
Jack Sundquist 
Margaret Whitis 
Leo Yuckert 


i v 


BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION 

Katheren Armatas, daughter of Lascos and Maria 
Foundukakis Sarantinos, was born at St. Jo- 
seph's Hospital on October 24, 1930. In addi- 
tion to being a housewife and mother, Kath- 
eren has been employed as a pharmacist. She 
likes to write and is a nature lover. 

Katheren grew up in the K Street business 
area and recalls the low crime level during 
the 30' s and 40' s. In fact, locking your 
doors was not common when you were at home. 

Angel ine Bennett, daughter of James and Annie Mc- 
Roberts Higgins, was born in Flint, Michigan 
on July 5, 1916. She came to Tacoma with her 
parents at the age of 15 and was overwhelmed 
by Lincoln High School, having only previous- 
ly attended small town schools. 

She is a retired postal clerk and includes 
writing, collecting and traveling among her 
avocations. Angie feels privileged and awed 
by living in an area which abounds with such 
natural beauties as Mt. Rainier, the Olympics, 
Puget Sound and evergreen trees. 

J. Smith Bennett, son of Will if red Horace and Wil- 
limina Ethel Jackson Bennett, was born in Ta- 
coma February 10, 1913. He was a retail con- 
sultant in store planning. J. is a man of 
many avocations; collecting old movies, mak- 
ing travel films, photography, reading, writ- 
ing, travel, gourmet cooking, music (classi- 
cal and jazz), his grandchildren, a great 
grandchild, and just loafing. 

He has a nostalgic appreciation of what a won- 
derful boyhood he had in Tacoma. When he re- 
turned to Tacoma after living in California, 
he believed as Thomas Wolfe did, “ You Can't 
Go Home again." 


v 


Cecelia Svinth Carpenter, daughter of Hans and 

Mary Edna Binder Svinth, was born and raised 
in South Pierce County and has lived in Taco- 
ma for more than forty years. 

She has taught school, is a researcher, auth- 
or and Indian historian. She has had four 
books published: They Walked Before - Indi - 
ans of Washington State; How to Research Am- 
erican Indian Blood Lines ; Leschi, Last 
Chief of the Nisquallies and Fort Nisqually- - 
A Documented History of Indian and British 

Interaction. Cecelia remembers her mother 

sharing stories of Indian life with her when 
they were on berry picking expeditions. 

Mary Etta Doubleday, daughter of Robert J. and An- 
na May Warren Pierson, was born in Spokane. 

Her parents moved to Tacoma in 1918. She has 
worked as a medical secretary, bookkeeper, 
newspaper writer and purchasing agent. She 
enjoys doing stitchery, is a crossword puzzle 
addict and loves tracking down garage sales. 

Mary Etta remembers going on camping trips 
with her family on Vashon Island when all your 
camping gear; bedding, cooking utensils, food 
and clothing, had to be hand-carried on the 
launch RAMONA in order to reach the camping 
site. 

Robert G. Doubleday, son of Robert S. and Sarah 
Meyer Doubleday, was born in Tacoma in 1915. 

He was employed as an administrative assis- 
tant and supervisory personnel officer at the 
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. 

Since retirement. Bob has spent time water- 
color painting and writing. He is interested 
in music and Northwest History. He remembers 
when the U.S. Navy dirigible SHENANDOAH , sai 1- 
ed over Tacoma in 1924 and that school kids 
were allowed to leave their schoolrooms to see 
the airship. 


vi 


Terry brant, the daughter of Albert F. and Alicen- 
ia Engle Gookins, was born in Tacoma in No- 
vember, 1919. Her first job in Tacoma was at 
the West Coast Grocery, where she was an ac- 
counting clerk. 

Since her retirement from Nalleys Fine Foods, 
she enjoys gardening at her permanent home on 
Hale's Pass. She remembers when there were 
no houses on Pacific Avenue from South 56th 
to South 64th. 

Amelia Haller, daughter of Ervin and Zoa McGowan 
Anderson, was born in a farmhouse in Todd 
County, Minnesota. She came to Tacoma with 
her parents in 1942, during World War II. Her 
mother and father helped build Naval ships at 
the Todd Shipyards. 

Amelia is a poet and also writes plays, short 
stories and articles. She remembers collect- 
ing scrap metal and adding it to huge piles 
at Puyallup High School. The scrap was hauled 
away and processed for re-use in war machinery. 

Eunice Huffman, daughter of Arthur and Eunice Saw- 
telle Anderson, was the adopted daughter of 
Roy and Annie Lucht Trobridge. She was born 
in Anaconda, Montana and came to Tacoma at the 
early age of six months. 

Eunice has been the owner and operator of a 
tavern, restaurant and lounge. Now that she 
is retired, she enjoys handicrafts, bowling 
and fishing. She remembers taking the street- 
car from McKinley Hill to Point Defiance to 
picnic and play tennis. 

Richard Elwin Jackman is the son of James Elwin and 
Emily Columbia Fairbanks Jackman. His father, 
a farmer, lived in Minnesota, California and 
Montana and served in the state legislatures 
of al 1 three states. 


Dick attended college at Southern Oregon 
College of Education at Ashland but turned 
to farming as being more lucrative than 
teaching. He worked in the lumber industry 
in Eugene and after taking a civil service 
examination was assigned work at McNeil Is- 
land as a correctional officer and guard. 

He later worked for the Washington State 
Employment Service as a farm placement rep- 
resentative, recruiting and placing migrant 
labor. 

In retirement he has enjoyed extensive tra- 
vel, gardening, botany and the study of com- 
parative religions. 

Phyllis Kaiser, daughter of John Jacob and Freda 
Grening Uhrich, moved to Tacoma at the age 
of ten in 1938. She was a homemaker and 
secretary. She now spends a lot of time 
writing, gardening, sewing, and is taking a 
brush-up course in income tax preparation. 

She was away from Tacoma during the 1 950 ' s 
and returned in the 19bU‘s just in time to 
witness the accelerated decline of down- 
town Tacoma. 

Jing Chuan Ling, the sixth child of a family of 
ten, was born in 1930 in Tacoma to Chinese 
parents, Yunan and Yet Sze Ling. The fami- 
ly lived on Market Street until 1960. She 
worked as an accountant with the City of Ta- 
coma, Department of Public Utilities, until 
her promotion to the position of Administra- 
tive and Accounting Officer for the City 
Municipal Transit System. She continued her 
career as the Manager of Accounting for 
Pierce Transit when the City Transit System 
became a county-wide transit system. She 
took an early retirement in October, 1983, 
after thirty years of service. 


v i i i 


She enjoys art, oil painting, sewing and 
knitting and planning remodeling for her 
home. She remembers Market Street, in her 
youth, as a busy, active area with very few 
vacant stores. 

Wesla Jane MacArthur, daughter of John Wesley and 
Estell a Burwell Whealdon, was born in Tacoma 
in 1914. She was a secretary and a homemaker 
and has always enjoyed reading, especially 
mysteries or books about archeology. 

Her youngest son and her daughter are third- 
generation Tacoma born. Her maternal grand- 
mother's brother (her great uncle) used to 
tell her stories about hunting for deer on 
North K Street near 719 No. K where she later 
1 i ved. 

Charlotte Anne Plummer Medlock, the daughter of 
Donald I. and Helen Atkinson Plummer, was 
born in Seattle and lived there for a year be- 
fore her parents moved to Lakota Beach in 
South King County. Her family moved to Tacoma 
in 1930 where she still resides. She is a 
homemaker, wife, mother of six children and 
grandmother of fifteen grandchildren. 

When her family was grown, "Polly" as she is 
known, turned to the study of genealogy to 
search for family roots. Researching local 
histories and newspapers has provided her with 
an opportunity to learn about Washington State 
history, a subject not required during her 
school days. 

Doris Morisset, daughter of Fred and Ida McGinnis 
Forkey, was born in Spokane on October 26, 1 91 1 
She taught school in lone and Dishman, Washing 
ton. She had five girls and two boys. 

She and her husband, Noel, lived in Bellingham 
and came to Tacoma on their retirement in 1984 
Her main hobby is reading. 


IX 


Mary Elizabeth Olson, daughter of Frank Harlem 
and Emma Pennant Monta, was born in Tacoma 
on January 21, 1922. She was employed at 
the American Biscuit Co. and eventually be- 
came floor lady. She served several terms 
as president of the local Bakery and Confec- 
tionary Workers International Onion of America. 

Mary is fond of knitting and crocheting and 
uses her skills to make items for Christmas 
House. To Mary Tacoma is home. Whenever 
she is away she always feels a sense of well- 
being and contentment when she once again 
sees THE MOUNTAIN. 

Gladys Para, daughter of G. Clement and Mildred 

Kohlhagen Hutchinson, came to Tacoma Junction 
in 1939 from Spokane, where she was born. 

She graduated from Cle El urn High School and 
from Washington State University, then mar- 
ried and raised her family in Othello. She 
now lives in Gig Harbor, where she studies 
and writes local history. 

She remembers her naive disbelief at the fur- 
tive haste in which her Japanese-American 
classmates' families were torn away from her 
neighborhood; and the extravagantly admiring 
comments about the Anglo wife of an internee 
who accompanied him to the Puyallup Fair- 
ground camp, as though she could have chosen 
not to. 

Madeline A. Robinson, daughter of Joseph Warter Sr. 
and Elizabeth Oswald Warter, was born at 631 
No. Fife Street in Tacoma. She was active 
in PTA, St. Patrick's Church and the Stadium 
Association which was instrumental in rebuild- 
ing the Stadium Bowl after the 1949 earth- 
quake. Throughout her life she has been in- 
terested in writing. 

Madeline took walks around Tacoma and down to 
Andrew Foss' boat when sidewalks were just 


x 


paths. There are many streets in Tacoma and 
roads in Pierce County which were paved by 
her father. Her memories include going on 
jobs with him when she was very young and 
waiting quietly until lunch time when he 
would come and eat with her. 

Wilma Snyder, daughter of William H. and Neva Wil- 
lis Ittner, was born in the Tacoma General 
Hospital on March 18, 1918. Her son and 
grandson were born in the same hospital. 

She taught first grade in Sprague and in Ta- 
coma. While serving as a reading specialist 
in Tacoma she started writing freelance his- 
torical articles for the magazine section of 
the Sunday Tacoma News Tribune. She remem- 
bers a bleak trip on a cold wintry day during 
the winter of 1930 to see the aircraft carrier 
the U.S.S. Lexington, which was in Tacoma to 
supply needed electrical energy. 

Fred Stiegler, son of Otto and Anna Landgraf Stieg- 
ler, was born in South Tacoma in 1911. The 
Stiegler family came to the United States in 
1909 on the Mauritania out of Liverpool, Eng- 
land. His father helped build the Union Sta- 
tion. 

Fred was a nursery manager and landscape de- 
signer and now enjoys nature study, specific- 
ally mycology. He is also interested in 
Northwest History, writing and carpentry. Fred 
worked at Washington Door and was active in 
Union affairs with a sharp memory of the Lum- 
bermen's Strike in 1935. He was owner/opera- 
tor of a grocery store in Moclips, Washington 
from 1945-1949. 

Fred has pleasant memories of climbing moun- 
tains with his father, clam digging at Copalis 
Beach, Washington and attending Fourth of July 
celebrations at the Stadium Bowl. 


Jack Sundquist, son of Erick and Hilma Haglund 
Sundquist, was born in Tacoma General Hos- 
pital in 1922. He was an elementary teacher 
in Tacoma and since retirement has enjoyed 
tracing his family history through geneaology 
and travel. He is also interested in history 
and fishing. 

He can remember when downtown Tacoma was a 
"beehive" of activity with streetcars and 
cablecars the main forms of transportation. 

Margaret Thurston Whitis, daughter of Leslie Earl 
and Christina Ellen Thurston, came to Tacoma 
in January of 1943, arriving on New Year's 
Day. She came to work in defense work as a 
clerical secretary. Her first job was in the 
laundry facility at Fort Lewis. 

Margaret was born in Minnesota, lived in East- 
ern Montana until age 14, then moved with her 
parents to Sunnyside, Washington. Having al- 
ways lived in small communities, Tacoma fas- 
cinated Margaret. It was an adventure to her 
to ride city busses and to have an opportunity 
to attend cultural and civic events. She re- 
members the lending library at Rhodes Depart- 
ment Store. 

Leo Yuckert, son of Henry and Emma Vogel Yuckert, 
was born at home in a house near South 21st 
and Cushman. He served one year as a second- 
ary school teacher and 34 years with the Fed- 
eral Aviation Traffic Control. 

Leo remembers a summer day when he hitchhiked 
with neighborhood kids to Pierce County Air- 
port to see Harold Bromley's plane after it 
had crashed on takeoff for a planned non-stop 
flight to Tokyo. 


xi i 


TABLE OF CONTENTS 


HOMES 

Beginnings in a Nineteenth 
Century Home 

Our Skinny House on the Hill 
Back to My Beginnings 


We Raised the Roof at 829 
South Steele Street 

In the Abstract 

First Home--Second Home 
7819 and 7821 South G 

Tacoma, Here We Come 

This is Home 

NEIGHBORHOODS 

Old Neighborhood 

Oasis for the Thirsty 

Sixth and Proctor - 
The End of the Line 

St. Paul Avenue Community 

Fern Hi 11 --My Neighborhood 

The Slavs and Old Town 

South 23rd and K 

Penalty for Cash 


Robert Doubleday 1 

Jack Sundquist 8 
Wesla MacArthur 13 
Wilma Snyder 19 

Dick Jackman 25 
Mary Olson 30 

Street 

Mary Etta Doubleday 35 
Eunice Huffman 37 

Angel ine Bennett 41 
Eunice Huffman 43 
Phyllis Kaiser 49 

Jack Sundquist 57 
Mary Olson 65 
Wilma Snyder 71 
Robert Doubleday 81 
Eunice Huffman 85 


Along Sixth Avenue From 
Steele Street to Pine 

Little Russia 
Little Italy 

Memories of the K Street 
Di strict 

The "Kids" 

Never a Dull Moment 

Neighborhood Entrepre- 
neurs 

The Street Where I Lived 
Fife School Days 


Wilma Snyder 87 

Phyllis Kaiser 94 
& Wilma Snyder 

Phyllis Kaiser 101 
& Wilma Snyder 

Katheren Armatas 108 

Mary Etta Doubleday 115 
Wesla MacArthur 117 
Mary Etta Doubleday 121 

Jing Chuan Ling 124 
Gladys Para 128 


SCHOOLS 

Three Generations at Angeline Bennett 134 

Hawthorne 

School Bells Ringing Mary Etta Doubleday 141 

Off to School Robert Doubleday 145 

To School on Foot Eunice Huffman 150 

Holy Rosary Elementary School Mary Olson 153 

The Beginning of a Long Wilma Snyder 158 

Career in the Public Schools 

FIRST JOBS 


"Spot a Gon on the Wye" 
The Russians Paid in Cash 


xi v 


Robert Doubleday 169 
Phyllis Kaiser 175 


I Made a Job of My Own Wesla MacArthur 180 

at Stadium High 

Electrifying Job in the ' 30 ' s Eunice Huffman 182 


Berry Picking in Puyallup 

It's the Berries 

Handyman at Virges Drug 

They Even Dealt in Furs 

The Ups and Downs of My 
First Job 

Oscillator vs. Osculator 
THINGS TO REMEMBER 

Fishing with Papa 
Steamboat's a-Comin' 
What's in a Name, Anyway? 
Olympic Dairy Ice Cream 
Our First Automobile 
Union Station Blues 
A Beastly Beginning 
Stopover 

Joseph Warter Sr., My Dad 

The Depression 

The Fleet's In 

Let' s Go to the Movies 


Mary Olson 185 
Jack Sundquist 189 
Jack Sundquist 192 
Terry Grant 194 
J. Smith Bennett 201 

Margaret Whitis 205 

Jack Sundquist 209 
Robert Doubleday 213 
Phyllis Kaiser 220 
Jack Sundquist 226 
Robert Doubleday 228 
Wilma Snyder 232 
Mary Olson 238 
Angie Bennett 241 
Madeline Robinson 242 
Mary Olson 247 
Jack Sundquist 253 
J. Smith Bennett 257 


xv 


Hollywood by the Sea J. Smith Bennett 262 

St. Luke's Episcopal Church J. Smith Bennett 266 


I Won't Be Needing a Doris Mori sett 270 

Winter Coat 

Indian Memories of Cecelia Svinth Carpenter 276 


my Childhood 


My Encounter with 

Freddie Steele 

J. Smith Bennett 284 

Manufacturing Gas 

Amelia Haller 288 

Religion, Symbolism and 

Tradi tion 

Katheren Armatas 291 

Flying High in Tacoma 

Leo Yuckert 298 

The Bismarck Fire 

Fred Steigler 305 


The Road Builder Madeline A. Robinson 309 



& Wilma Snyder 

Father's Work 

VOICES FROM THE PAST 

Eunice Huffman 314 

Early Fern Hill and Tacoma 

Wilma Snyder 318 

Living Under Tacoma's 

1886 Charter 

Wilma Snyder 325 

Signs of the Times 

Robert Doubleday 330 

Tacoma's Floury Past 

Phyllis Kaiser 337 


Out of the Blue Mary Etta Doubleday 342 


All Roads Lead to Rhodes 

Robert Doubleday 349 

Mabel Engebretsen Bunge 

Amelia Haller 354 


Dear Papa Charlotte Plummer Medlock 358 


xvi 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 


This book would not have been published if it 
had not been for the diligent authors who freely 
gave of their time for a period of three years. 
Writing, rewriting, listening and critiquing were 
part of a unified effort to get this book into 
print. They searched for and paid for the print- 
ing of pictures to accompany their stories. Gra- 
phics were drawn by Myron Thompson and are used by 
the courtesy of The Tacoma News Tribune. 

_ T 

Some people took, on extra responsibilities. 

They were: Ann Sears, secretary; Robert Double- 
day, treasurer; Phyllis Kaiser, illustration co- 
ordinator; Jing Chuan Ling, refreshment chairman; 
Ethel Spangler, typist and J. Smith Bennett, de- 
signer of the cover and separating pages for the 
divisions of the book. We especially want to 
thank Murray Morgan for writing the introduction. 

The telephone reference desk and the Northwest 
Room of the Tacoma Public Library graciously an- 
swered questions to verify historical information 
and the Washington State Historical Society gener- 
ously provided us with a meeting place. 

No^ attempt was made to change any individual au- 
thor's style but historical accuracy was a primary 
aim. Some of our writers wrote prose, others po- 
etry, but regardless of the medium, the writing ex- 
presses individual experiences. A few authors, 
who enjoy research, extended their efforts to find 
and record some story about Tacoma which previous- 
ly had little publication. 

Copyright 1988 Wilma Snyder, Editor 


xvi i 


xvi i i 











BEGINNINGS 

IN A NINETEENTH CENTURY HOME 


By Robert Doubleday 

Our family home was at 2306 South Yakima Ave- 
nue. The house, gone now, was built in the 1890s 
and sold in 1901 by a man named Kronziger, to my 
grandfather, George Meyer, who proceeded to re- 
model and enlarge it to accommodate his family of 
six, soon to be seven, children. My father, in 
1921, bought the house and this was my home until 
I married in 1937. 

The two lots on which the house sat were unusu- 
ally long and sloped from the alley down to Yaki- 
ma Avenue. We had a fine view of Mt. Rainier, 
the Cascade Range, the ti deflats and McKinley 
Hill. 

Grandfather was a pretty fair carpenter. . in his 
later years he was a car finisher (cabinet maker) 
for the Northern Pacific Railway in its South Tac- 
oma shops. He added a two-story front section to 
the house, containing a living room and one bed- 
room on the first floor and a curved stairway 
leading to three bedrooms on the second floor. 
Since the building was constructed in two attempts 
it had some rather peculiar nooks and crannies 
that certainly made it different from the average 
run of house in the area. Typical of residential 
architecture of the time, it was a tall and nar- 
row building, perched on a post-and-block founda- 
tion. My bedroom was on the second floor, many 
feet above the ground and when a good winter 
storm began to work on that old structure, I was 
sure - lying in bed at night - that I could feel 
the house sway under the pressure of a strong 
southwest wind. 

In summer, with my bedroom window open, I could 
hear the southward bound steam locomotives panting 
and gasping their way up the old NP tracks through 
the gulch to South Tacoma. 


1 



The Robert S. Doubleday home at 2306 So. 
Yakima Avenue, 1937. Courtesy of the author. 


2 


Oyer the original portion of the house was the 
attic, the entrance to which took off from the 
stairway landing on the second floor. On rainy 
days the attic was a fine place to poke around in 
with the hope of uncovering some surprise that 
had been missed on the last visit. Full of 
steamer trunks, dress forms, fruit jars, old ker- 
osene lamps held over from the days before elec- 
tricity, collections of postcards. National Geo- 
graphies, Ladies Home Journals and souvenirs of 
World Fairs past, all covered with generous lay- 
ers of dust, it encouraged dawdling away a few 
hours. In winter the patter of rain on the cedar 
shingles overhead added to the coziness of the 
scene. 

The kitchen, in the style of the day, contained 
a large wood-burning cookstove with a capable 
woodbox along side, a table and four chairs, and 
a row of coathooks just inside the door. The 
floor was bare wood. There was no plumbing, cab- 
inets or shelving in the kitchen; these were all 
in the pantry, such as they were. Illumination 
consisted of a drop cord from the center of the 
ceiling with one bare light bulb turned on or off 
by means of a button in the bulb socket. Enter- 
ing a darkened room, one groped around blindly 
overhead until one found the bulb, then felt for 
the turnbutton. It was better than a kerosene 
lamp, but not much. There were no wall outlets 
or switches in any room in the house. 

Security was not one of our concerns. We fre- 
quently went to bed at night with the outside 
doors unlocked and enjoyed a sweet sleep. There 
was hardly anything in the house that a burglar 
who knew his trade would want. We always entered 
through the back door and the rear of the house 
was as dark as the inside of a Black Angus steer. 
To thwart miscreants we would, if we were to be 
gone for a time, lock the back door with a pass- 
key, copies of which could be bought almost any- 
where for two bits. 


3 


I'm pretty sure there were petty crimes of one 
sort or another going on around town but we were 
not troubled by ill-doers. 

In the late 1920's my father had the basement 
area enlarged and the floor paved with concrete 
so he could install his small printing plant. He 
had two letter presses, a paper cutter, stapler, 
composing stone, several fonts of type, "furni- 
ture" and other articles of the printer's trade. 

He had a modest job-printing business and he pub- 
lished Motor Line , a monthly trade magazine for 
the burgeoning motor coach passenger business. 

The whole family worked at the task of getting out 
this journal. Father did the writing, set most of 
the type and "made up" the pages. I operated the 
presses, cut paper into the proper size, and in 
the process, learned a little of the printer's 
trade. Mother and my sister, and occasionally, 
other visiting relatives, folded the sheets of pa- 
per, stapled the pages, and made them ready for 
mai ling. 

Our neighbors were a mixed lot. The Albert 
Nelson family were thrifty Scandinavians. He was 
a motorman with the streetcar company and their 
son Philip was one of my pals. There were Leander 
Campbell, a black man and a railroad porter, and 
his wife Julia; the McFaddens, Dominic and Bessie, 
Irish as can be, who had no electricity in their 
house; Dominic believed electricity was a myster- 
ious, and perhaps, evil force. Lewis Ott was a 
Swiss house painter, a fine gardener, and rumored 
to have been the model for the statue of Abraham 
Lincoln which graced the entrance to Lincoln High 
School. The Lemishes, recent European immigrants, 
owned a shoe repair shop; the Oscar Johnsons -- he 
was a meat cutter in Frye's downtown market -- and 
their boys, Roy and Richard, were in our neighbor- 
hood gang; the Laybourns, Alf and Mildred, had 
immigrated from England to Canada and then to the 
United States. Alf owned and operated for many 
years, a cigar store in the lobby of the Tacoma 


4 


Building and was known by the tenants as "Scotty." 
They had three sons, one of whom, Alfred, has been 
my lifelong friend. I'm sure I've missed some 
names, but that was a long time ago and my memory 
has leaked out a lot of information in the inter- 
vening years. 

Our neighborhood was unusually blessed with va- 
cant lots. The two that adjoined our house to the 
north had been taken over by my father for his 
ever expanding vegetable garden but he had set a- 
side an area just for kids and built for us an 
earth-bound sailboat, about 20 feet long, complete 
with fo'c'sle, mast, boom, bowsprit and tiller. 

We boys were pirates at times, explorers at others, 
and didn't mind at all that we never got wet or 
seasick on our ship. 

On other vacant lots we dug tunnels to "secret 
rooms," built Indian teepees, and of course, 
played the usual varieties of games: red light, 
run sheep run, kick the can, and some of our own 
devising. 

An unexpected and exciting event occurred in 
1924 when the 1 ighter-than-ai r dirigible, Shenan- 
doah, queen of the U.S. Navy's rigid airship fleet, 
visited Tacoma on October 18. The town turned out 
to gaze at that great, silver shape cruising se- 
renely overhead. The Shenandoah moored after dark 
at the mast erected for that purpose on the prairie 
near where McChord Field is now located. Many of 
the citizens chugged out to the mast in their Mod- 
el T's and parked with headlights on so the line- 
handling crew could see better to do their job, 
normally a daytime operation. It was a momentous 
day! 

It was about the same year that electronics 
first entered our home in the form of a crystal 
radio set. My father, always eager to try anything 
new, acquired this contraption complete with cat's 
whisker, headphones and tuning coil, and proceeded 


5 


to erect an antenna between our garage and the 
house. We were thrilled by the voices of the 
"Wil-Wite Singers" emanating from the studios of 
KMO on the roofgarden of Rhodes Brothers Depart- 
ment Store in downtown Tacoma. The singers ad- 
vertised the merits of Wil-Wite woolen knitwear, 
a local product. The signal was weak; only one 
person at a time could listen, and others in the 
house had to tip- toe around. But it was a thrill 
We all took turns enjoying this marvel. Father 
was devoted to it. 

There were a number of abandoned houses in the 
neighborhood in varying stages of decomposition. 
They were always good for a few hours of explora- 
tion. In one of them in our later years, we boys 
decided to set up an exercise room. This was at 
a time when we all had secret hopes of becoming 
great muscular specimens. So we rounded up some 
sheets of cardboard, nailed them to the walls, 
scrounged some old mattresses (I'm happy to say 
that I don't recall where we got them), made some 
primitive weight-lifting gear out of water pipe 
and cans filled with sand, and turned out almost 
every evening with lots of sweating, grunting and 
groaning to lend an air of authenticity to the 
proceedings. Only one of us ever made it to "mus 
cledom." The rest of us backslid terribly and 
gave it up. 

My father died in 1943 and shortly afterward 
Mother sold the house and printing plant. A few 
years later the house was torn down. I have re- 
visited the site of the old place and was unable 
to locate the foundation, sidewalks, or any other 
part of the structure under the rank growth of 
trees and blackberry vines. Two or three of Fa- 
ther's fruit trees are still there, the only evi- 
dence of our presence on that piece of ground. 


6 



7 


OUR SKINNY HOUSE 
ON THE HILL 

By J. L. Sundquist 

Between 1934 and 1936 our family lived at 710 
South J Street. I remember the dates because I 
was going to Jason Lee Intermediate and my little 
sister was going to Central School. That day I 
was supposed to go down to Central and pick her 
up and I forgot, leaving a very frightened little 
sister waiting at the school door, not knowing 
the way to the new house. She never let me' for- 
get that. On moving day Mama had to do all the 
packing and unpacking because Papa was working. 
When I got to 710 there were boxes and packages 
all over the floor. We slept there that night in 
wonderful confusion. Mama hated moving. 

Most of the houses on the west side of J Street 
between 7th and 8th were built on the same pat- 
tern. They were, and are, for they still stand 
tall and narrow, for they were built on 25 foot 
lots and had only about four feet between them. 
Their projecting roofs nearly touched. They were 
built on reversed patterns so the front porches 
of two were next to each other like neighbors gos- 
siping over a back fence. The front door opened 
into a long hallway with a stairway to the second 
floor on the outside wall. One doorway led off 
the hall to the front room, another further down 
opened into the dining room, and at the end of the 
hall a third door led into the kitchen. The trim 
around the doors, windows and baseboards was of 
beautifully fluted wood. A main feature of our 
front room was the large Sears radio which gave us 
"One Man’s Family," Walter Winchell, and the "Jack 
Benny Program" by J-E-L-L-0. The dining room had 
a large wood heater in a corner and in the ceiling 
above the heater was a square metal vent which al- 
lowed the heat to reach the middle upstairs bed- 
room. In the back was a large kitchen with plain 
wooden cupboards and a wood cookstove. 


8 


Upstairs there was a small bedroom over the 
front porch, where I slept, two bedrooms on the 
side and one in the back with the bathroom be- 
tween the two back bedrooms. The bathroom had a 
clawfoot bathtub and a toilet with a box hanging 
up on the wall with a dangling chain. 

Our small backyard had space for a garden and a 
single garage with a woodshed. When a load of 
wood was delivered it was my job to throw it into 
the woodshed and stack it. I envied those who 
could afford planer ends, we always got regular 
rough-cut wood with the bark on. The rough wood 
left tiny slivers in your hands and arms which 
would lie there and annoy you for days. 

Dr. Weyer, a drugless physician, lived at 708, 
the house on our north side. He was a short, qui- 
et, graying man with a quieter wife. His princi- 
pal equipment seemed to be a large coffin-shaped 
box with a lid lined with lightbulbs. 

Just south of us in 712 lived two elderly women, 
Mrs. Florence Ford and Mrs. Beecher. They lived 
quietly, their sole interest seemed to be their 
cats. It seemed they grew catnip in the backyard 
and their cats would have orgies. 

The Moriartys lived in 714; he worked at the 
Tribune in the printing department. His son Jim- 
my and I were friends. In 716 lived the Morrills. 
They had a daughter named Marjorie. In the summer 
of 1936 I learned to play Monopoly on a homemade 
set in her backyard. It became a passion for me 
and by summer's end I could name the rentals on 
every place on the board as well as tell where one 
would land on a roll of eight by the dice. We 
played all day in the grape arbor, shaded from the 
summer sun. 

Papa bought a new, gray, four-door Ford in 1936 
when we lived on J Street. It was the first new 
car he had ever purchased. The salesman was Mr. 


9 


Mamaliti, a small, short, chubby man, who gave us 
candy and always smiled. I have the receipt for 
$100 when my father traded our 1926 Studebaker 
for the Ford. He was to make payments of $25 per 
month, which was more than we were paying for 
rent. But it was a beautiful car and Papa drove 
it until 1948 when he purchased a 1949 Ford. 

Sometimes we would play " kick-the-can" in the 
back alley and shouts of "I spy so-and-so" would 
ring out. If you were spied you had to leave the 
game and stand by the side, but if someone would 
dash out and kick the can, everyone who was cap- 
tured would dash wildly away before the "It" per- 
son could retrieve the can and reset it. Thus we 
enjoyed our youth in simple ways. 

In the winter we would slide down 7th Street on 
our sleds between K and J Streets. We did not 
worry about cars coming down J for they were much 
fewer then and went much more slowly, and as chil- 
dren, we had that childlike oblivion of what trag- 
edies might happen. 

I joined a Boy Scout troop which met in the 
basement of the First Christian Church on 6th and 
K Streets. I did not get any further than Second 
Class because we spent many meetings playing "Fox 
and Geese" in Wright Park. Later I joined a tro- 
op at the First Presbyterian Church at Division 
and Tacoma Avenue and rose rapidly through First 
Class and Star to Life Scout with 21 merit badges. 
The merit badge examinations and awards were held 
in the old County Courthouse with its great open 
center and golden oak stairways and woodwork. 

Our front lawn at 710 had a seven foot bank. 

With our hand mower I would run up the bank as far 
as I could, perhaps five feet, and then let the 
mower run down the two feet from the top and pull 
it back up. It was a tedious job, even on a 25- 
foot lot. I used to make some spare money by mow- 
ing lawns for 25<t but I never offered to mow a 
lawn with a high bank. One was enough. 


lu 


Most of our neighbors were plain working people 
except for one. On the corner of 8th and J was 
the large, white residence of Ira Davisson, the 
head of tne Water Department of Tacoma. I knock- 
ed at his door several times when I was selling 
the old Liberty magazines for five cents. His 
wife would gently say, "No" - and that was it. 

Today most of the houses are still there and 
some are gaudily painted like ladies of the night 
coo old for their profession. Seven-ten is for 
sale for $60,000. My father could have purchased 
it for $1,500. Time is money. 


11 



Home reminiscent of style of 1918. Courtesy 
of Tacoma School District Print Shop. 


12 



BACK TO MY BEGINNINGS 

By Wesla MacArthur 

"Jump, everybody, jump!" Wesla Nell, Nancy and 
I jumped from our perch outside the porch railing 
to the grass just five steps down, where each of 
us "froze" in whatever position we happened to 
land. Timing of the jump had to be accurate so 
it would be seen by people on the passing street- 
car. No one ever got off at the corner to see if 
we were hurt, but we kept on trying. I don't 
know whether we wanted to be hurt, or whether we 
were just trying to give passers-by a thrill. In 
any event, the game kept us out from under our 
mothers' feet for hours at a time. 

There was only one house between ours at 719 
North K Street and the southeast corner of the 
intersection. For many years a family named Hig- 
gins lived in that corner house. There were two 
sons, Leonard and Harry, and one daughter, Betty, 
who was about my age. Len had one of the first 
crystal sets in the area. Every day, xhe entire 
neighborhood would check in to find out who or 
what Len had contacted during the night. Once in 
a while, he'd let Betty and me put on the head- 
phones and listen to the crackling sounds. I was 
so excited about being allowed to put on the ear- 
phones that I seldom managed to concentrate 
enough to identify any sounds I heard as words. 
Len later worked for the Tribune as his father 
had. Harry was the older, and I looked on him 
much as I did on any grown man. It was hard for 
me, an only child, to realize that those two 
young men were really Betty's brothers. After 
Betty's father died, I think in about 1923, the 
family moved and we lost contact with them. 

Some time later, another family moved into that 
house. They, too, were people completely outside 
my experience. Like the Higgins family, the Ha- 
leys were Roman Catholic. Mrs. Haley was a tiny. 


13 


delicate woman. She and her husband were separ- 
ated. He lived in Canada and showed up in Tacoma 
regularly in August. He would take each of the 
children down town and outfit him from head to 
toe in new clothes, which were intended to last 
until he returned the following year. I couldn't 
imagine having enough money all at once to do 
that. The shopping spree lasted a week or two, 
but I don't recall ever meeting Mr. Haley face to 
face. In my childish mind, he must have looked 
something like a billfold. 

As in many Roman Catholic homes, at least one 
of the children was expected to devote his or her 
life to the church. One of the older boys start- 
ed his education to become a priest. For a rea- 
son I never heard, he didn't complete the train- 
ing. One of the girls went into a convent. She 
really enjoyed the life and had but one task to 
complete her course, a task requiring a rigid per- 
iod of fasting. She tried twice, but one of the 
church hierarchy refused to permit her to try a 
third time. She was sent to a TB sanitarium where 
she met the man whom she later married. 

The youngest girl in that family was called Nan- 
cy, although she had been baptized Ann Frances. 

She became my special pal. her bedroom window 
and mine faced each other across our mutual side 
yard. We rigged up a pulley between those two 
windows, hung a small basket on a string, and 
sent notes to each other in the basket. Sometimes 
we even tried to ship cookies, candy, doll clothes 
and anything else we could think of that the bas- 
ket might hold. We called each other Pulley Pal. 
Many years later, while living in New York City, 

I found a note in my mailbox inviting me to din- 
ner. The note was signed "Pulley Pal." What a 
reminiscing visit we had! 

Directly across K Street on the southwest corner 
of the intersection, lived Dr. Sydney McLean and 
his family. The oldest was Charles, who had a 


14 


long scar across his face where he had struck the 
side of a building while playing on a rope swing 
and there was a girl about my age named Rosebet- 
ty. The youngest of the three children was Syd- 
ney, always called Junior. His death was a tra- 
gic one which I'm sure none of us near the scene 
will ever forget. He was a very strong and ath- 
letic boy in his teens. He had taken a dare to 
cross the street on the high wires on a telephone 
pole. His friends were appalled when they saw he 
actually meant to do it. They were so shaken 
that they forced him to sign a paper absolving 
them and assuring anyone reading the note that it 
was Junior's idea alone. He almost made it, but 
fell on his head and shoulders so hard that his 
high- topped tennis shoes were wrenched from his 
feet. Charlie, home from a stay in a TB sani- 
tarium, was taking his prescribed afternoon rest 
in the front bedroom upstairs. He heard Junior 
land and came barrelling out of the house without 
putting on his shoes. Junior lived only a few 
days, and when he became conscious he seemed to 
believe he’d been hurt in a bicycle race. Per- 
haps that was just as well. 

On the northwest corner, directly across from 
the McLeans, was another doctor. Dr. Locke, and 
his family. They had one daughter named Wesla 
Nell and a son named for his father, Joseph Alan. 
Instead of being called Junior, the son was called 
by their mutual middle name of Alan and the fa- 
ther was called Joseph. Alan became a teacher in 
Tacoma many years later. 

The fourth corner of our intersection was a 
large lot, which had somehow been cut down to the 
level of the alley which was halfway down the 8th 
Street hill. On the back of the lot near the al- 
ley was a two-story house which had turned a soft 
gray from the buffeting of many winter storms. 
There was something a bit mysterious about the 
Ward family who lived in that house; Mr. Ward 
was seen occasionally, but I don't recall ever 


15 


ever seeing Mrs. Ward. The City Directory as- 
sures me she was there. They had a son called 
Bud who was well-liked by all the boys in the 
neighborhood. A daughter, Josephine, but called 
Josie, had all the girls in the neighborhood in a 
state of constant terror. She was about my age, 
but didn't seem to go to school. However, she 
was nearly always outside when the rest of us 
were going to and from school. She threw rocks 
at all of us and her aim was deadly and painful. 
Our mothers did not encourage our getting ac- 
quainted with Josie but I never knew why. Now, 
of course, I'm certain that Josie desperately 
needed us all for friends. One rumor indicated 
that perhaps Josie was a victim of petit mal, but 
I've no proof of that being the mystery. Now 
there's a City Light sub-station on that lot and 
the old gray house and its mysterious occupants 
are gone. 

One of my worst and most annoying failings has 
been an unchallenged ability to forget names. I 
recall a lovely lady who lived directly across 
the street from our home but I only remember her 
as Colonel Coiner's wife. She epitomized lady- 
like elegance to me. At one time, she gave me an 
Indian bracelet that one of her husband's Indian 
friends had made for her. She also gave me a 
pair of tiny doll moccasins made of deerskin and 
heavily beaded. 

Next door to the Coiners lived Mr. and Mrs. Lee, 
their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. John- 
son, and their two children, a girl and a boy. 

Both were sufficiently younger than I so that I 
wasn't interested in them for playmates. There 
was another man who showed up there occasionally, 
Percy Lee. He lived out of state somewhere and 
was rumored to be an artist. Many years later, 
while I was living in New York City, I went with 
a friend to the spring art show in Greenwich Vil- 
lage; the streets were lined with paintings and 
ceramics. Hopeful artists made charcoal sketches 


16 


of people willing to pay a small fee. Each artist 
was responsible for the sale and safety of his own 
works, a duty sometimes shared with a friend. My 
friend and I came across some paintings of Mt. 
Rainier in the spring, some of the Olympics, and 
a few quite obviously of the Cascades. My friend 
kept protesting that, while the paintings were 
lovely, they were not realistic. "After all," she 
argued, "everyone knows that flowers don't grow 
right in the snow like that." Nothing I said 
would convince her. Just then, I noticed a very 
well dressed man strolling nearby who seemed to be 
watching Kay and me. I looked at him, went back 
to look at the signature on the disputed pictures, 
went back to him and said, "You're Percy Lee, 
aren't you?" He laughed then and replied, "And 
you are Wesla Jane. Thank you for vouching for 
the authenticity of my pictures." 

In 1931, my father died in the large front bed- 
room at 719 No. K; the following year my grandfa- 
ther passed away, and the next year my grandmother 
was buried. For a time, my mother, my brother and 
I lived in the K Street house, while my mother's 
sister. Aunt Leona, lived all by herself in the old 
family home on No. Junett. Running back and forth 
between the two houses, carrying meals and checking 
on each other's welfare became tedious. Because 
the K Street house could be rented more easily than 
the larger home on Junett, we moved in with Aunt 
Leona. Twenty years later, my husband and I, with 
our three small sons, returned to Tacoma and rented 
the K Street house from my mother. I was back to 
my beginnings. 


17 



Bungalow home at 829 So. Steele. My father 
posed with buggy used for my twin sister and 
me, 1918. By courtesy of the author. 


18 



WE RAISED THE ROOF AT 
EIGHT-TWENTY-NINE SOUTH STEELE STREET 


By Wilma Snyder 

My mother was pregnant when my parents, William 
and Neva Ittner, bought the house at 829 South 
Steele Street for $1500. That was in 1917. It 
was a one-story bungalow, but when the expected 
child turned out to be twins, they felt the need 
of more space and it was made into a two-story 
house. My sister and I can literally take credit 
for raising the roof. The second story added two 
more bedrooms, two walk-in closets, a sewing room 
and attic space. From time to time, good use was 
made of the extra room when my mother, following 
a pattern set by her parents, took in relatives 
who were temporarily in need of housing. 

The house had a small front porch which was the 
setting for many picture-taking sessions on birth- 
days, holidays, or family reunions. The front 
porch opened into a small hall which had an arch- 
way leading to the living room. The same sort of 
archway was between the living and dining rooms. 
Pedestals with supporting pillars were part of 
each archway, more decorative than architectural- 
ly necessary. 

The woodwork was dark and so was the furniture. 

A mohair davenport had a matching chair which was 
my favorite place to curl up in and read. Two 
oak rockers provided extra seating space. One 
was covered with leather, but the other had an 
elegant rose velvet and tapestry cushion made by 
my mother. An oak library table and a fernery, 
with a Boston fern, which set in a bay window, 
completed the living room furnishings. 

The dining room set was also oak with chairs 
covered with brown leather. The top of the round 
table was so smooth I delighted in rubbing my hand 
over its shiny surface. Years later when I felt 


19 


the smoothness of a slave block in New Orleans, I 
was reminded of the feeling of our old dining 
room table. (Innumerable pairs of bare feet had 
worn down the slave block to the same sleekness.) 
The table had several leaves which could be used 
to extend its size for company. Then the Bavaria 
china, the 1847 Rogers silverplate and the etched 
crystal glassware were brought out for the festi- 
vities. The china and silver sparkled on the 
Irish linen tablecloth. We weren't well-to-do, 
but my mother liked to set a nice table and my fa- 
ther was a good host. He knew how to carve a tur- 
key--almost a lost skill. 

A hand-wound oak phonograph stood in one corner 
of the dining room. If I happen to hear old tunes 
such as, "Linger Awhile" or "Wonderful One" or 
"Doodle-Dee-Doo" or "Ain't We Got Fun" I remember 
those old 78 records being played on the Victrola. 
Many nights my sister and I fell asleep to the mu- 
sic of the twenties as my parents entertained 
their friends. 

The walls of the house were plastered and calci- 
mined. At one time my mother took up the fad of 
what was called "stippling" and by using a sponge 
dipped into different colors of calcimine, turned 
the plain wall into a dizzying pattern. It wasn't 
long after that the walls were finally papered. 

The carpeting in the living room and dining room 
were generally nine-by-twel ve' s which left ex- 
posed a border of varnished fir flooring which had 
to be dust-mopped often. 

The two downstairs bedrooms were sparsely furn- 
ished. My parents' bedstead was brass; my sister 
and I had an iron bedstead which had been gilded. 

We used to entertain ourselves by clicking out 
popular tunes with our fingernails on the iron and 
took turns guessing what the tune was by the rhy- 
thm. The dressers in both rooms were oak; the two 
parts of one set being divided - only my sister and 
I didn't have a mirror. 


20 


The bathroom was a tiny room at the back of the 
house, entered into by a narrow hall from the kit- 
chen. It had no heat. The wash basin was a tiny 
corner installation. Even the faucets were tiny. 

In winter, the warm bath water would make the 
cold walls sweat. I usually shunned the bathroom, 
but in warm weather I used to sit on the edge of 
the long bathtub and watch my father shave. A lea- 
ther strap for sharpening his straight edge razor 
hung from a hook on the wall. This strap was 
sometimes used for spanking. My mother was usual- 
ly the disciplinarian, but once she asked my fa- 
ther to "do the honors." He evidently felt dif- 
ferently about the punishment -- I don't remember 
the crime. He told my sister and me to holler and 
he slapped the wall with the strap. That was one 
time when I liked that little room, but I didn't 
like it so well when it became my weekly chore to 
clean it. I should record another traumatic event 
concerned with that room. My father got blood 
poisoning from a barnacle cut and fainted in the 
bathroom. He was a tall man and somehow he fell, 
his head slipping under the tub. My mother called 
an ambulance and the drivers had a difficult time 
maneuvering the stretcher through the hall and in- 
to the bathroom, not to mention getting his head 
out from under the tub. They took him to the Nor- 
thern Pacific Hospital and his arm was packed in 
ice. They talked about amputation, but the doctor 
said to stick with the ice for a few more hours. 
Since my father had lost parts of the two middle 
fingers on that hand, it could have jeopardized 
his job as a railroad brakeman to lose more. But 
the icepack did the job and he recovered nicely. 

Furnishings in the kitchen were dwarfed by the 
big, black Majestic range which sat directly on the 
floor. My mother managed to bake cakes, pies and 
bread without a temperature gauge. Planer ends 
were burned in the stove and the ash fell into a 
box. Of course, the ashes had to be dumped and as 
soon as we were old enough, my sister and I had 
this chore to do as well as carrying in wood from 


21 


the woodshed. We also helped throw the wood into 
the shed when it was dumped by the fuel company. 

We became competent at jobs which might have 
been assigned to a brother, if we had one. The 
trusty range also provided us with hot water; 
coils in the stove heated water which circulated 
into a 30 gallon tank which sat in the corner of 
the kitchen. A Kitchen Queen, a drop-leaf table 
and four chairs were the rest of the furnishings 
of this room which was completely functional, not 
beautiful . 

A large walk-in pantry opened off the kitchen. 

It had cupboards and drawers for the storage of 
utensils and food. The two cupboards had screen- 
ed openings which were used as coolers--before 
the days of refrigerators. Later this pantry was 
remodeled into a breakfast nook. 

The only other heat for the house, in addition 
to the kitchen range, were two electric heaters 
with eighteen-inch registers installed below 
floor level in the living room and the dining 
room. The registers got hot enough to burn gril- 
led patterns on the soles of shoes, but they were 
comforting things to stand over while getting 
ready for bed on cold winter nights. My mother 
often heated fair-sized rocks on the heaters, 
wrapped them in towels and put them in our bed at 
night. They stayed warm longer than hot water 
bottles. It was unusual to have electric heat as 
early as 1922, the year it was installed. When 
the workmen had the galvanized tin holders instal- 
led but before the coils were installed, my sister 
fell in one of the boxes. She was terribly fright 
ened, thinking that she would be burned, but was 
comforted and shown that it could not happen. 

The back porch, though small, was also function- 
al. When my mother bought a washing machine with 
a hand wringer, she had one stationary tub instal- 
led for rinsing. During the hottest months of the 


22 


summer, the tub was used as a makeshift ice box. 

It would hold 50 pounds of ice, and there was 
built-in drainage--no dumping of an overflow pan. 
The ice was covered with newspaper and some very 
heavy canvas to keep it from melting too fast. 
Washday had to be accommodated to ice delivery 
days. 

About 1940 the dark woodwork throughout the 
house was painted an off-white; floors were sand- 
ed and refinished in a natural tone. Gray wall- 
paper with a rose design replaced the stippled 
walls and rose carpets were purchased for both the 
living and dining rooms. A new dining room set 
which could be labeled "Early Grand Rapids" was 
put in the dining room. There was a buffet to 
match and my mother bought a mirror in an art- 
nouveau frame to hang above it. A tapestry of 
dancing gypsies hung from a wrought iron rod, re- 
placing the picture of dead rabbits and pheasants 
which had previously decorated the dining room 
wal Is. 

New bedroom furniture was purchased and the old 
was relegated to the upstairs rooms. The sewing 
machine which previously had been stored behind a 
door in the dining room, was moved to the upstairs 
sewing room. My mother made all of her own things 
and those for my sister and me plus such things as 
pajamas, bathrobes and smoking jackets for my fa- 
ther. She augmented the family income by doing 
dressmaking for people outside of the family and 
never lacked for garments to make. She was a beau 
tiful seamstress as well as a designer. 

The backyard had several fruit trees; apple, 
cherry, pear, plum and prune, and at various times 
blackberries, raspberries and loganberries. We 
kept some chickens at one time and I learned to 
like sunflower seeds by picking them out of the 
feed we purchased for the fowl. My father took 
care of the outside and my mother's domain was the 
house. My sister and I helped both parents. 


23 


Our house was a comfortable and happy place to 
live and I really had no worries until I was old 
enough to understand what "the depression" meant. 
My mother was a worrier and I presume I caught my 
concern from her, as I don't recall my father be- 
ing overly pessimistic. Our home was paid for 
two years after it was purchased, but my father's 
records show that he was off the working list for 
the freight division of the Northern Pacific for 
the first three months of 1929. His total salary 
that year was $1,814.73, which was slightly above 
the national average of $1,749 for railway work- 
ers. However, he had given up a life insurance 
policy which was not reinstated, and at his death 
in 1934, our family had just a small savings ac- 
count of $1,000 which we lived on until a year la- 
ter, when my mother remarried. 

In spite of depressions, death and a step-father 
to adjust to, the fact that I had lived in the 
same house for 20 years gave me some feelings of 
stability, so 829 South Steele Street was always 
"home." 



829 So. Steele became a two-storied home after 
roof was raised in 1922. Courtesy of author. 


24 


IN THE ABSTRACT 


By Richard Jackman 

At about 3:00 a.m., January 1, 1949 as my wife 
and I were returning from a New Year's Eve party, 
we came to the intersection of 38th and McKinley 
Avenue and noted that the fire station doors were 
open and that there was a red glow in the clouds. 
Each of us said something like, "That looks close 
to home." As we rounded the corner of Howe Street 
we exclaimed, "My God! It jjs home." 

Flames leaped from the front window and reached 
high above the eaves. We stopped our car behind 
the fire engine just as two hoses were directed at 
the blaze. 

"Our boys, dear God, our boys" my wife sobbed. 
Quickly I got the attention of the fire captain 
and told him of our fears. He quickly gave the 
order to lay another hose, directed at the upper 
rear bedroom, and a ladder was run up that side. 

It seemed like an hour before the flames were 
conquered enough so that the firemen could deter- 
mine for sure that no one was in that bedroom or 
anywhere in the house. Just about the time we 
knew for sure that the boys weren't there, two 
young teenagers and a sub-teen came trudging up 
the slope, their faces showing awe and shock at 
what confronted them. 

Before leaving for the party, my wife and I had 
dispatched the boys to a show at the Temple Thea- 
ter, expecting that they would be home long before 
we were, but the Temple had a new show starting at 
midnight. Our boys had ducked under the seats when 
the house cleared and popped up for the late show! 
When the late show was over no busses were running 
and the boys had to walk home. Had the house not 
burned, their bottoms would have for pulling that 


25 


trick, but of course, punishment was not on our 
minds when we were reunited. 

After the insurance was paid, we had clear ti- 
tle to the lots and the wreckage. A small house 
next door was vacant at the time so we were able 
to occupy that while we salvaged what we could and 
build a new house on the same foundation. Credit 
was easy then; 5 h! for a $12,000 loan on a 25 
year contract. 

I had originally purchased the house from Dan 
Gerontis, who had owned it for more than 20 years, 
having purchased it from someone named Sorenson, 
who had built it more than a decade before that. 
Gerontis had jacked up the house, dug a basement, 
built a concrete foundation and made a few other 
improvements. 

Thirty-eight, thirty-nine East Howe is about 18 
feet closer to the street than any other house on 
Howe Street. At the time that McKinley Park Four- 
th Addition was added to Tacoma, there was a 
"grandfather clause," allowing houses to be built 
on existing foundations of previously built ones. 
Before the 25 year contract expired I borrowed 
$5,000 more for redecoration and reroofing, so it 
was a full 30 years before payments were complete 
and the abstract was delivered to me. Meanwhile, 

I had acquired all of the lots between my house 
and East 40th Street. 

The abstract is a curious document, beginning 
with a Land Patent to one "James Sitwell (old), 
and his wife, Choi i dad Sitwell," for 102.3 acres 
of the Puyallup Indian Reservation. It was dated 
January 1, 1886 and signed by President Grover 
Cleveland (or his representative). In the 40-odd 
typewritten pages which follow, detailed informa- 
tion is given as to how, when and to whom the a- 
creage was whittled away by Choi i dad Sitwell and 
her daughter, Mary Bird. James Sitwell died in 
1890, leaving one daughter, Mary, who married James 


26 


Bird. So far as can be determined from the ar- 
chives of the Puyallup Tribe, Mary Bird had no 
children. 

One presumes from the parenthetic "old" in the 
land patent that there must have been a younger 
Sitwell somewhere, but no mention of him appears 
in any existing records. The Puyallup Reserva- 
tion once included 88,000 acres, the northern tip 
extending to Redondo Beach. Maps of all of it 
exist, showing individual ownership. In examin- 
ing them I found that lot 19 of McKinley Park 
Fourth Addition, my property, happens to be the 
northeast corner of Section 15, Township 2, range 
three east of the Willamette Meridian. The old 
maps also show that Sitwell owned another tract 
on the Puyallup River, near where the Highway 99 
bridge is located. There is even a picture of 
the house he owned there. According to law at 
the time, Indians owning reservation property had 
to live on it six months of the year in order to 
retain title. It would seem that the Sitwells 
must have built some sort of house just where my 
house is. The location is the highest point on 
Howe Street and it falls away sharply on the east 
and south sides. In Sitwell's day, it would have 
been a lot of trouble to hire horses and slip- 
scrapers and haul in dirt for the sake of having 
a level lot. Also, that high point gave a view 
of the rest of the 102.3 acres. 

Old-timers tell me that a century ago, there was 
a small stream running in the draw to the east of 
my property. It came from a spring a block or so 
west of where McKinley Avenue crosses the railroad 
tracks. There was a sawmill there which had a 
millpond and it is also known that there was a 
small natural pond, where a few salmon spawned. 
That stream reached the Puyallup River near where 
the railroad bridge is now. The presence of the 
stream and pond very likely influenced the Sit- 
wells to select the land I now own. Circa 1902, 


27 


the spring was diverted into the drainage system 
and most of its watercourse has long been filled; 
a short stretch of it still exists in the brush- 
filled gulch just east of my property. 

A history of the Puyallup Tribe by Elizabeth 
Shackleford (Tacoma Public Library) mentions that 
James Sitwell was a close friend of John Slocum, 
the last officially proclaimed chief of the com- 
bined Puyallup, Muckleshoot and Nisqually Tribes, 
and that he succeeded Slocum upon his death, al- 
though he was never officially proclaimed chief. 

She also mentions that Sitwell was sometimes spel- 
led Sutwulch. 

Ethnologists place the Puyallup language in the 
grouping of native American tongues known as Sal - 
ish, or Salishan. That language contains a number 
of gutteral , labial and palatal twists, hard for 
most English speakers to duplicate and equally 
hard to spell. It would seem that "Sitwell" was 
probably a white man's rendition of an Indian word 
which may have been quite different. Even such a 
seemingly simple word as "Tacoma" doesn't sound 
exactly the same as in the original native pronun- 
ciation. 

My abstract shows that Sitwell's property was e- 
ventually divided and subdivided. . .just frittered 
away. Nearly 30 acres of it remains undeveloped 
and in brush. All of it was, at one time or anoth- 
er, private property, but some has reverted to city 
ownership for non-payment of taxes. Some is re- 
served for streets and alleys, if they are ever 
needed. 

A picture in the tribal archives shows fir trees 
on the riverbank side of the Sitwell property. 
Undoubtedly his entire holdings were forested, but 
the Indian records have no history of who did the 
logging, or when. 


28 


This picture goes with the 
story on the following page. 



Second home, 7821 South G Street. Courtesy of 
the author. 


29 


FIRST HOME - SECOND HOME 
A Move Next Door 

By Mary Olson 

When I was two. Mother and Dad decided that we 
needed a larger house. The little house at 1719 
So. G Street where I had been born, had only four 
rooms; a kitchen, living room and two bedrooms - 
one of these was just a lean-to built on to the 
back of the house. So Dad went looking for a new 
home. At that time St. Ann's Parish had decided 
to get rid of the huge old house which they owned 
and which sat next to the church at 72nd and Park. 
When Dad heard this he was excited. Such a buy 
and such a big elegant house! Saying nothing to 
Mother, he purchased it and moved it in next door, 
cutting down most of the orchard to make room for 
it. Mother was appalled! Such a monstrosity. It 
was an enormous, old-fashioned house with 12 foot 
ceilings, no bath, no running water and long nar- 
row windows which Mother hated ever after because 
it was impossible to find curtains that would fit 
them. Downstairs there were three large, square 
rooms and upstairs three huge bedrooms, one of 
which was 25 feet wide, the entire width of the 
house. However, Dad, being something of a carpen- 
ter, built an addition on the back to form a pan- 
try and a large closet; plastered, painted and pa- 
pered the whole house and piped city water (cold) 
into the pantry. In time it turned into a home 
and I have many fond memories of the house at 7821 
So. G Street, but Mother never did get over the 
windows. 

It never occurred to Dad that he had to have any- 
one's permission to move the house; after all, it 
was his. He hired a team of horses and moved it on 
rollers down Park Avenue. In order to get the huge 
old-fashioned house down the street Dad had to move 
all the rural mailboxes, which at that time were 
set on posts along the street. This posed no prob- 
lem for Dad. He just dug them up and after the 


30 


house was moved, went back and reset them. He was 
very surprised when, a few days later, he was ser- 
ved with a warrant by a federal officer, charged 
with interference with the United States Mail! I 
don't know what, if any, penalty he paid. That 
part of the story was probably glossed over in the 
retelling if I know my Dad, but it was one of his 
better stories. 

The little house was sold to an old couple, Mr. 
and Mrs. Aikins. He had been a cowboy on the 
plains of Canada. She was, I suppose, only in her 
60' s but I thought that she was ancient. Her back 
was so stooped that she could not straighten it. 

Now we would say "calcium deficiency," then I tho- 
ught how hard she must have worked to have caused 
her back to bow so. I never had any living grand- 
parents and so Mr. and Mrs. Aikins became "Gramma 
and Grampa" to me. 

Next door to them was a little, dark-green house 
that was home to my dearest friend, Connie Aikins. 
She was Gramma and Grampa' s real granddaughter but 
I don't remember any difference being made between 
us. If we were hungry and we always seemed to be, 
we could count on Gramma Aikins for some homemade 
bread and jam, anytime. The only rule was that we 
clean up after ourselves. 

The tobacco that Grampa Aikins smoked came in big 
broad leaves which he crushed in the palm of his 
hand before filling his pipe. When we were caught 
smoking out back of the barn, Grampa made us each 
eat a leaf. It didn't cure us of smoking but it 
sure made us sick! 

When I was about nine. Dad got a Sears-Roebuck 
toilet and installed it in the big closet off the 
dining room. What luxury! No more going outside 
on cold winter mornings! Of course, neither the 
dining room nor the closet were heated so I don't 
suppose it made that much difference. But it was 
definitely more elegant! Dad and the boys still 


31 


had to dig holes to empty the contents of the 
bucket, but that didn't concern me as it wasn't 
my job! 

Another great improvement was the telephone. 
Ours was on the wall by the kitchen window, next 
to the table. As we grew older we spent a lot of 
time playing cards at Mr. and Mrs. Baker's. They 
lived on the corner of 78th and G, a whole block 
away, but by looking out our kitchen window we 
could see into their dining room window where 
their phone was. We were on the same party line, 
so when Mother wanted us to come home, she would 
call their number then hang up so that the phone 
would ring at their house, then watch through the 
window until she saw someone take down the re- 
ceiver on their phone before picking up her re- 
ceiver again. Complicated, but it worked. 

Only the first floor of the house had any 
heat; really only the kitchen and living room, 
since the dining room doors were usually shut to 
keep the heat in the two rooms that had stoves. 
The kitchen was heated by the cook-stove, of 
course, and the living room by a wood and coal 
heater that had mica windows in its front door so 
that you could see the fire glowing inside. 

There was no heat in the bedrooms nor on the 
stairs or in the hallway leading to them. In 
winter the rule was firm; you never left the door 
between the kitchen and the hallway open. No 
heat was allowed to escape from the downstairs 
living quarters into the freezing bedroom area. 

It was so cold in that hallway that Mother had 
Dad build a shelf under the stairs and place a 
slab of marble on it. On this was kept the milk, 
butter, eggs and anything else that had to be 
cold. Even in summer that hallway never warmed 
up. 


We also kept our bikes under the stairs, safe 
from thieves and handy to roll out the front door. 


32 


Dad even kept his roofing nails there to keep 
them dry. One of my earliest memories is of the 
time one of the cats had her first litter of kit- 
tens on the top of an open keg of nails and then 
abandoned them there. Mother somehow trained the 
mother cat to nurse her babies and she turned out 
to be a good mother after a little instruction. 

The kitchen stove consisted of a fire-box, an 
oven big enough to bake a weeks' supply of bread, 
a reservoir on the side for water which never 
held enough hot water for a really hot bath, but 
always had plenty of hot water for dishes. The 
water was ladled out of the reservoir with a dip- 
per, a cup with a long handle on it. 

Above and to the back of the stove were two 
warming ovens. Here were put biscuits to keep 
warm and plates to be heated. There were also 
little, round shelves which folded up when not in 
use. These could be used to hold any small thing 
that you wanted to keep warm. One might hold the 
tea pot, covered with its own cozy. 

The oven door was an especially important part 
of the stove. Opened, it let all of the heat out 
into the kitchen, and provided warmth on Saturday 
night, when the old galvanized wash tub was plac- 
ed on the floor in front of it for baths. The 
first child to come downstairs in the morning 
would claim it as his spot to warm up before being 
forced back to his icy bedroom, to dress for 
school. Try sitting on your oven door sometime! 
No, don't — you'll have a big repair bill! 

Oh, those were the "good old days!" Well, of 
course, I didn't have to cut the wood or carry in 
the coal to feed that iron monster. I did have to 
clean out the ashes from under the fire-box and 
the oven. I also had to clean up the mess I al- 
ways made when I did it. So maybe the "good old 
days" had a few drawbacks. But they are fun to 
remember. 


33 



The R. J. Peirson home, 4642 McKinley Avenue, 1930. 
Courtesy of the author. 


34 


TACOMA, HERE WE COME 

By Mary Etta Doubleday 


We moved to Tacoma in 1918. My father, R. J. 
Peirson, was a millwright. My only memory of 
that eventful moving day was getting off a street- 
car with my mother and brother, who was carrying 
all our shoes in one big bag. I was three years 
old. 

My father had been working for the Canadian Pac- 
ific Railroad in Bull River, British Columbia, and 
when that tie-mill closed down, my parents decided 
on the move to Tacoma, a likely mill town. Both 
parents were Canadian-born and immigration laws at 
that time required that husbands go through the 
naturalization process. My mother was more than a 
little surprised when she received a letter invit- 
ing her to attend night school classes to learn to 
speak Engl ish. 

During our 30-plus years in Tacoma my father 
worked as a millwright (men who built and main- 
tained mills) and as a carpenter in various saw- 
mills, for the most part at St. Paul and Tacoma 
Lumber Company. During his final years of work he 
received medical coverage paid for by the company, 
but never did he achieve a paid vacation. We were 
fortunate that he was steadily employed during the 
depression. Fortunate is the word, since my moth- 
er worried volubly that if he might miss even a 
day's work we would immediately "go over the hill 
to the poor house." He worked through the union- 
izing days with their strikes and violence. In 
other words, he was a "scab," for which a "wimp" 
who lived next door and who had never done an hon- 
est day's work, beat him up as he got off the 
streetcar after working all day. Another working 
neighbor's garage was bombed one night. When the 
pressure was finally too much, my father joined the 
Carpenters Union. Their monthly publication was 
named Carpenters and Joiners, and I assumed that 
the title referred to the original members who were 


35 


carpenters and all those who joined later. 

My father bought a new house on the northwest 
corner of 48th and McKinley Avenue for $1500. It 
had two bedrooms, one with a closet; a bathroom, 
living and dining rooms and a kitchen with no cup- 
boards but with a sink attached to one wall. We 
had running water, electricity and a cesspool. 
Cesspools eventually filled to capacity and caved 
in--and that was an EVENT — and a SMELL! So you 
dug another, and on that 37% foot lot I wonder how 
there was room for many digs. 

My handprints are still in the front concrete 
sidewalk which my father poured. He built a gar- 
age and woodshed and dug a cellar under the house 
which filled with water whenever it rained. It 
was a real adventure to put on hip boots and navi- 
gate to the shelves where canned fruit and vege- 
tables were stored. 

It was on that small lot that I acquired my nev- 
er ending love of flowers, for my mother grew them 
in profusion in every tillable inch of ground. My 
father rented a vacant lot across the street to 
grow vegetables and berries. 

These were my surroundings for 19 years, until I 
was married, and after that moved from house to 
house. 


36 


THIS IS HOME 

By Eunice Huffman 

To many people it was only a house but to me it 
was the home in which two loving and caring people 
accepted me at age eight. They adopted me after 
the death of my birth mother and brought to my 
life the family stability every child needs. 

The land on which our home was situated was gi- 
ven to my father by his mother and father. The 
house at 3707 McKinley Avenue was built by my fa- 
ther in 1919. The grandparents resided next door 
to us and were a great source of enjoyment to me 
in my growing period. 

Seasons of the year can be remembered for spe- 
cific happenings. Springtime meant that the semi- 
annual thorough housecleaning job was to be done. 
Every item in the house was either washed, aired, 
painted, waxed or scrubbed. Even mattresses were 
placed outside on sawhorses to be beaten and air- 
ed. The moving of the mattresses outdoors always 
caused a problem between Mother and me; she would 
always giggle and drop her end of the load and I 
would scold and urge her on. After the cleaning 
was completed, mothballs and moth crystals were 
concealed in all the furniture but their odor per- 
meated the room and today when I smell mothballs 
I immediately think of home. Springtime was also 
the time for planting our vegetable garden in the 
small space we had in the backyard. Just the bas- 
ic vegetables, such as carrots, onions, beets, 
possibly a row or two of peas and a few poles of 
beans, could be fitted into the small plot. The 
enjoyment of the harvest was well worth the ef- 
fort. 

Summertime was always a fun time in the back- 
yard. Mother encouraged me to have friends over. 
We'd play outside and have various types of pic- 
nics which made it easy to fill up the yard with 


37 


friends. Summer also meant canning time as Moth- 
er preserved both fruits and vegetables. When I 
was old enough I also aided in this task. Root 
beer was made and stored in the basement and dis- 
pensed for a treat on hot days. When it was warm 
we often ate our evening meal on the back porch. 

We had a folding table that sat on the porch 
which was easy to open and set for outdoor eating 
or game-playing. 

Autumn brought the anticipation of school com- 
mencing again. Most of my school clothing was 
made at home as Mother was an accomplished seam- 
stress. McKinley Elementary School was directly 
across the street from our house and I was always 
eager for the doors to open and welcome me back 
after the long summer. An autumn task was to 
make sauerkraut for winter eating. A gunnysack 
of cabbage was purchased, shredded, salted and 
placed in a large crock. A plate was placed on 
top of the cabbage with a well -washed rock placed 
on the plate for a weight. The cabbage was then 
left to ferment and become kraut. The smell was 
very enticing and when I was in the basement I'd 
often sneak a bit of kraut from the crock. I nev- 
er could understand how Mother knew I'd been in 
the crock, but she did. When the kraut was cured 
enough. Mother would preserve it in jars for la- 
ter use. Before winter set in and the price of 
eggs rose, several dozen eggs were purchased and 
preserved in waterglass in a crock and stored in 
the basement. During the winter when baking was 
done, eggs were removed from the crock for that 
purpose but we never ate them at meals. 

Winter was an exciting time. School years brou- 
ght learning experiences; sports and in advanced 
grades, the anticipation of additional school ac- 
tivities. At home the family had parties with 
friends and relatives and their children were in- 
vited so I had friends to enjoy also. Thanksgiv- 
ing and Christmas holidays were always a very 
special time. Either Mother or Grandma would 


38 


prepare great feasts, and aunts, uncles, cousins 
and parents would gather for the enjoyment of 
their efforts. I think Mother and Grandma compet- 
ed in the cooking department. Winter also brought 
times of depression when it was rainy and gloomy. 
This was the time for much reading and sewing as 
we did not have a radio until later, when I was 
in high school . 

Home was the place that gave me the guidance to 
make the choices between right and wrong. The 
discipline I learned while living at home has sus- 
tained me in troubled times through my adult 
years. It was at home that I learned of jealousy, 
when at age thirteen, my aunt and her ten-month 
old daughter came to live with my grandmother next 
door. Mother and Dad lavished a lot of attention 
on the baby through her growing-up years and it 
was difficult for me to learn to share that part 
of their love. It was in this home that I saw the 
sharing of love of two people for each other as my 
parents were very devoted to each other. 

I also remember some sad as well as happy times. 
Both my grandmothers died while I was still at 
home. It seemed the sorrow of death was felt with 
grimmer sadness then than it is today. It was in 
this home that I was married and ventured off to a 
new era of my life. 

Now when I think of that home I feel fortunate 
to have had people who chose me to be their little 
girl and make such a wonderful home for me. I've 
often wondered what path my life might have taken 
had I remained living with my maternal grandmother 
and her family where I had been taken after the 
death of my birth mother. 


39 


40 



iiiiiiii{iiiiiii(iHfiiiiifiit((iriiiiiiitiimiuHiiiiiiuuiiiU!iniimuiiiiiinui!iji 


neighborhoods 





























OLD NEIGHBORHOOD 

By Angel ine Bennett 


Wild blackberry vines 
as serious as barbed wire 
form a thorny fence 
from alley to street. 

Lots where houses stood 
have long ago forgotten me 
and grass, like old dreams, 
goes its way unnoticed. 

I hate encroachment 
of nearby shops 
and parking spaces. 

There used to be moonlight 
near that shed 
conducting new-love lessons. 

In young trees, 
newcomers to the street, 
birds sing 
but not my song. 

Only old cement steps 
against the embankment, 
chipped away by time, 
mossy now, vine-covered, 
desolate as remembrance, 
remain to whisper feebly, 

"I remember you." 


The "old neighborhood" is the south side of 
East 26th Street between D and E. 


41 



Old neighborhood. Courtesy of the author. 


42 


OASIS FOR THE THIRSTY 


By Eunice Huffman 


How could the passage of one law change the 
profile of a community? 

On January 16, 1919, the 18th amendment to the 
constitution prohibited the manufacture, trans- 
portation, or sale of liquor. During the presi- 
dency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, this amendment 
was rescinded by the passage of Amendment XXI in 
February 1933. It was ratified by December 1933 
and dispensing liquor again became legal. 

Washington State passed an initiative allowing 
the sale of liquor; only beer and wine were al- 
lowed to be sold through public outlets, starting 
April 7, 1933. The first Tacoma beer license was 
issued to Roger's Confectionery on South 23rd and 
K Street. The control of liquor, however, was 
maintained by the State, and liquor was dispensed 
through State liquor stores only. Tacoma's first 
liquor store opened March 29, 1934 at 1008 A Stre- 
et. 

After licensing of beer taverns (no saloons al- 
lowed) became effective, McKinley Avenue district 
soon fell into step. The first tavern was opened 
by Willette and Vincent Duckwitz in 1934 at 3518 
McKinley Avenue and was named "Duck's." In 1949 
they moved into a new building at 3511 McKinley 
Avenue, still keeping the same name. After the 
death of Mr. Duckwitz, his wife continued to oper- 
ate the tavern but eventually sold the business. 
Many operators and names have followed, but the 
place goes on as "Duck's." 

The second tavern to start in the same year, 
1934, was "Harry's Place" at 3519-B owned by Anna 
and Harry Jonczyk. Anna served hamburgers and 


43 



Opening day, January 23, 1950, Whylie's Cafe, 3405 
McKinley Avenue. Courtesy of the author. 


44 


chili, and Harry was the bartender. In February 
1946, the tavern was moved across the alley to a 
building Harry purchased at 3529 McKinley. After 
Anna's and Harry's deaths, the tavern was operat- 
ed by their daughter and her husband, Dorothy and 
Gerald Kent. Eventually the business was leased 
to another operator, but still has the name, 
"Harry's Place." 

In 1941 the third tavern joined the area; Lloyd 
Parkins opened his tavern at 3527 McKinley Avenue 
and named it "Parky's." It changed hands long 
ago but still operates at the same site under the 
same name. 

These three taverns have operated as competitors 
within a block of each other from 44 to over 50 
years and have maintained a friendly atmosphere 
for the beer drinkers. 

State Initiative 171 authorizing "liquor by the 
drink" became effective March 2, 1949. On March 
26, 1949, 15 State licenses were issued for the 
City of Tacoma and four in Pierce County. These 
licenses were issued conditionally because licen- 
sees had to prove they could eventually meet li- 
quor board requirements. 

My husband, Frank Whylie, and I had owned and 
operated the Community Tavern on 56th and M Street 
since 1938, as well as other taverns in the coun- 
ty. Frank decided that he would like to own a 
cocktail lounge, so started the tedious task of 
securing a license. Licenses were being issued 
sparingly in the beginning years so it took some 
doing even to be considered. Frank proposed a 
site on 56th and M, but it was turned down so he 
looked to McKinley Hill where we had previously 
lived. 

On the corner of 34th and McKinley in the McKin- 
ley Apartments, there was the Red Robin Cafe which 
was a lunch counter-type operation owned by Mrs. A. 


45 


Vasicek. In 1949 we purchased the Red Robin as 
it was a prerequisite to own and operate a res- 
taurant before you could be considered for a 
cocktail lounge license. After getting condi- 

rnn?^iT r °^ al fr0m the Washin 9 ton State Liquor 
Control Board, remodeling was started for the 

lounge, on the gamble that it would be approved. 
At any time the Board could have said "no." The 
opening was planned for early January 1950, but 
the January 13th blizzard delayed the receiving 
of inal furnishings and supplies. Whylie's Cafe 
officially opened on January 21, 1950 as a res- 
taurant and cocktail lounge. At first, the tav- 

^ ns " ot to ° pleased, as we could serve what 
they did plus liquor, but 60% of our gross sales 
had to be in food. We decided not to serve tap 
beer or wine, which would have cut into the tav- 
ern business, thus being more fair competitors. 

orJ he h Llq Tu r B ° ard decided our area was not large 
enough. They required separation of restaurant 
and lounge, so in 1951 we purchased the Halo 
Beauty Shop next door and combined the two areas 
We operated a Chinese restaurant and lounge on a' 
conditional license, until after the death of 
Frank on July 9, 1952. Shortly after his death, 
the Board awarded me a permanent license. I took 
over the management of Whylie's Cafe until May, 
1981, when it was sold to Dexter Hutton, but it 
still operates under the name of Whylie's Cafe. 

Whylie's had the sole liquor license on McKinley 
Avenue until March 1957 when Ray C. Roberts, VFW 
Post #969 moved from 38th and Yakima to 3510 Mc- 
Kinley Avenue. Their operation was a bit dif- 
ferent as it was a membership organization: they 
could serve liquor without the necessity of food 
service. 

The last one to join the oeprators of taverns 

nnonoH r 5h ln c the are3 W3S S3m,Tly W ° n 9’ wh ° 

opened the Sampan Restaurant at 3504 McKinley in 


46 


1972 and it had a lounge also. He operated the 
restaurant a few years and then sold. The place 
is now known as The Partnership. 

One would wonder how an area of three blocks 
could support three beer taverns and three cock- 
tail lounges. Possibly no other area could do it 
so successfully, but McKinley Hill people are 
very supportive of each other. Each place has 
its special customers who stick to one place, 
but other customers go from place to place, car- 
rying the news of the Avenue. 

Other beer and liquor establishments operate 
further up McKinley Avenue in the area of 40th 
and 64th Streets. My focus of McKinley Avenue 
has always run from 38th to McKinley Park, as 
that was the area I was allowed to travel as a 
child. 


47 



Ingvald Froslee (center), his cousin on his right, 
and the deliveryman at the far right. The two 
ladies also worked in the Horn-Holmes Store. 

Courtesy of Cora Anderson, niece of Ingvald Froslee. 


48 


SIXTH AND PROCTOR: 

THE END OF THE LINE 

By Phyllis Kaiser 

Tacoma was bustling with activity and noise on 
St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1938, when I arrived 
here with my parents and brother. For an eleven- 
year old, coming from the countrified town of 
Mount Vernon, our move was exciting. My father 
had closed his meat markets in Puyallup and Mount 
Vernon due to the strain of the depression, and 
had difficulty for many months finding steady work 
When he was offered a steady job at the Savemore 
Super Market in Tacoma's Sixth and Proctor busi- 
ness district, it was a new beginning and exciting 
for the whole family. We first moved into a rent- 
ed house at 3202 Sixth Avenue and four or five 
months later, to another rented house at 3825 Six- 
th Avenue. 

Proctor was the end of the line for the Sixth 
Avenue streetcar. In that area the tracks made a 
complete circle, turning south between Gray Lumber 
Company and Big Six Service Station to South Sev- 
enth Street, west to Proctor Street, north to Six- 
th Avenue and east back towards town. Sixth Ave- 
nue was wide and paved with concrete as far as the 
streetcar tracks ran, however, beyond Proctor 
Street it was a narrow, two-lane, oil-mat road 
with loose gravel on the sides. I was fortunate 
to experience riding a streetcar before they were 
put out of service to be replaced by buses. 

I remember my brother and I, with a group of 
neighborhood children, riding the Sixth Avenue 
Streetcar downtown to the Music Box Theater at 
Ninth and Broadway. Walt Disney's animated movie, 
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the first color 
film to be shown in Tacoma, attracted crowds of 
children from all areas of town. I was fascinated 
How different from the black and white Tom Mix cow 
boy movies I had watched in Mount Vernon! Street 


49 


cars made their final run on Saturday, June 11, 

1938. Our family watched from the porch that 
evening as the Sixth Avenue car, decorated in 
appropriate regalia, loaded to capacity with 
shouting, cheering people, moved slowly along the 
avenue as if reluctant to end its era. 

The business district at Sixth and Proctor, or 
the West End, as it was often called, had started 
to develop in the late 1920's. The Independent 
Lumber Company, later known as Gray Lumber Com- 
pany, started in 1927 as the forerunner of other 
businesses. It was followed in 1928 by Big Six 
Service Station, Hoveland Drug Store, Horn and 
Holmes Company, and a small needlework shop. Oth- 
er businesses soon moved in and it became a center 
that could serve the neighborhood with most of the 
necessities. The people in the neighborhood shop- 
ped within their own district, seldom traveling to 
other areas. 

By 1938 there were nine businesses located adja- 
cent to the southeast corner. The Hoveland Drug 
Store, shelves stocked with remedies for all the 
common ailments, was managed by William Hoveland, 
who always had time and was willing to help those 
seeking his advice. The Fireside Tavern and The 
West End Tavern were situated side by side and 
one wondered if either suffered from competition. 
Workers from the Narrows Bridge patronized taverns 
in the district. Their "bridge" talk, especially 
the tales told by the deep water divers who bat- 
tled the enormous currents of the Narrows during 
construction of the tower piers, all added zest to 
the usual mundane tavern talk. The Big Six Ser- 
vice Station, open twenty- four hours a day with 
daytime mechanical service, was a blessing for 
many drivers. Gray Lumber Company was the only 
lumberyard in the west end of town and served much 
of the new construction for that area. Located 
from 603 to 611 South Proctor were H.F. Johnson's 
Barber Shop, Martha Elston's Beauty Shop, The 
Guard Cleaners and Dr. D.G. Nelson's dental office. 


50 


The Safeway Store was located on the southwest 
corner of Sixth and Proctor. Though all other 
area food stores suffered from competition and 
frequently changed ownership, Safeway remained 
Safeway at that location for many years. 

Ten businesses were located adjacent to the 
northeast corner. The Savemore Market was where 
my father worked with Lee Clark, operating the 
meat market and Howard Normo operating the gro- 
cery department. William Johnson's Bakery adver- 
tised to thearea daily with the aroma of freshly 
baked bread and rolls that no one could resist. 
Fred Fontana had a barbershop next to Fred Mas- 
ser's Shoe Repair. Everyone took their shoes in 
to be repaired rather than buy new ones. When 
shoe rationing began in 1942, people became even 
more prudent about having their old shoes repaired 
The West End Delicatessen was small and usually 
filled to capacity, having no competitor in that 
district. The Snak'n Tap Tavern was larger than 
either of the taverns across the avenue and had 
its equal share of the patrons. Mae Hitchcock's 
Dressmaking Shop was also a needlework store. My 
mother was especially fond of needlework and cro- 
cheting and probably patronized Mae Hitchcock's 
store with more interest than others. It later 
became known as The Sewing Basket. Walter Fowell 
had the grocery and meat market for only a short 
time. On the same northeast corner, facing Proc- 
tor Street, was the Chez-Ma-Lu Beauty Shop and Car 
roll's Ice Cream Parlor. Carroll Cushman's friend 
ly personality attracted young people to gather 
when they were lucky enough to have nickles and 
dimes. He made his own ice cream; not a great va- 
riety of flavors but delicious soft ice cream. He 
also had a few punchboards. A nickel was all it 
took for several punches and a chance to win a can 
dy bar. I didn't have nickels often enough to be- 
come a big time gambler, but once I did win a can- 
dy nut roll, larger than any I had ever seen. It 
took days to eat that one! 


51 


One business was located on the northeast corner, 
The Horn and Holmes Company, a general merchandise 
store. It was the most unique of all, unlike mod- 
ern, up-to-date stores; to walk into the Horn and 
Holmes store was like stepping into the past, a 
place where momentum slowed down; a Norman Rock- 
well scene come alive. One would usually see sev- 
eral older men standing or sitting on cracker bar- 
rels around a pot-bellied stove, smoking pipes and 
spinning yarns. Potato sacks leaning against 
counters made good beds for sleeping cats. The 
merchandise offered more variety than quantity, 
ranging from groceries and meats to hardware, 
shoes and clothing. An old candy case was the big 
attraction for little children; stocked with Baby 
Ruth, Butterfinger and Hershey bars, red and black 
licorice whips, Wrigley's chewing gum and, of 
course, jelly beans. It was an adventure to walk 
through that store. 

The neighborhood people and I thought the two 
men operating the store were Mr. Horn and Mr. Hol- 
mes. I was surprised in 1985 to learn the taller 
man was Hans Bakstad, an employee, and the shorter 
man was Ingvald Froslee, a partner in the Horn and 
Holmes Company's Tacoma stores. Cora Anderson, 
neice to Mr. Froslee, enlightened me on identities 
and was aware that many people thought them to be 
Mr. Horn and Mr. Holmes. 

My father worked at the Savemore Super Market 
helping get ready for its grand opening in April, 
1938. A few short weeks after the opening, Lee 
Clark realized he had been overly optimistic about 
business and within a month's time found it neces- 
sary to lay my father off. At that time Walter 
Fowell was trying to sell his grocery and meat mar 
ket located only a few doors from the Savemore Mar 
ket. The local optimism for business growth cen- 
tered on the completion of the Tacoma Narrows Brid 
ge. Increased traffic to and from the peninsula 
passing through the district, plus growth in the 


52 


residential population, would surely support all 
the businesses. My father bought Walter Fowell's 
store in the spring of 1938 and put his sign up, 
"Jack Uhrich's Meats and groceries." Hard work 
and optimism were no match for the stiff competi- 
tion and he was forced to close his store in 1939 
a little more than a year after he purchased it. 

He then pursued work in the Crystal Palace Public 
Market, located at 11th and Market Streets in 
downtown Tacoma. Later he and my brother, Richard 
bought the New York Market within the Crystal Pal- 
ace Public Market when downtown Tacoma was an ac- 
tive, interesting place for shoppers. 

People comprising the Proctor Street neighbor- 
hood were of various Caucasian ancestry. Homes 
were small and well maintained, giving the neigh- 
borhood a neat appearance. Houses were built a- 
long Sixth Avenue as far from town as Orchard 
Street. Beyond Orchard, land was undeveloped with 
only a few homes remotely placed. West of Proctor 
there were some tracts of land with woods and 
ponds. These provided a paradise for explorer- 
minded little boys; pollywogs, frogs, lizards and 
snakes were all interesting prey for their capture. 
Using imagination, children could improvise many 
adventures. 

Students had no choice of schools. Those from 
the Sixth and Proctor area attended Jefferson Ele- 
mentary at North 12th and Stevens Street, Jason Lee 
Junior High at Sixth Avenue and Sprague Street, and 
Stadium High at Division Avenue and Stadium Way. 
During good, marginal and even bad weather, many 
students walked to and from school. Almost daily 
Sixth Avenue had a large parade of students, nois- 
ily laughing and talking above one another, dwind- 
ling in size as they left the avenue in the direc- 
tion of their homes. 

Recreational activity for youth, especially dur- 
ing summer, centered around Jefferson Park. Mr. 
Sullivan, or "Sully" as everyone called him, was 


53 


employed by the park department and devised acti- 
vities and crafts to interest young people. There 
were swings, teeter-totters, wading pool, base- 
ball diamonds and tennis courts at the park. 
Crafts, dance classes, and general get-togethers 
were conducted in the community building. One 
evening young people were trying out a set of 
boxing gloves Sully had brought. A girl of my 
own age and size asked me to try the gloves out 
with her. They looked well padded. Why not! One 
unblocked swing was a bulls-eye, in the center of 
my face. What a jolt! I quickly decided that 
wasn't for me. During cold winters the tennis 
courts were flooded with water to freeze for an 
ice skating area. I didn't have ice skates but 
found many partners for tennis in the summer. The 
city-wide talent show was a popular summer event. 
The park department's traveling stage, built from 
the trailer of a truck, visited each park in the 
city during the summer. Talented youth had their 
evening to star. Families spread blankets on the 
lawn, came supplied with their favorite snacks, 
and everyone enjoyed the show. 

Swimming at Titlow Beach at the west end of 
Sixth Avenue was a favorite summer pastime for 
youth. We called it "The Lagoon" as it was a nat- 
ural low area filled with water at high tide. A 
railroad embankment divided the lagoon from the 
Sound. Water flowed in through a large, five-foot 
diameter concrete pipe built under the railroad 
embankment. A gate on the lagoon-end of the pipe 
could be closed to contain the water. For empty- 
ing and cleaning, the drain pipe's gate was opened 
with the receding tide. The water wasn't changed 
often so became much warmer than the Sound for 
swimming. The area furthest from the drainpipe 
was shallow and divided from the deeper section by 
a rope held afloat with wooden bobs. A swimmer's 
float made from logs and planks and supporting a 
five-foot diving board was centered in the deeper 
section. I learned to swim there after overcoming 
an old imaginary fear of "water snakes." 


54 


The land and Titlow Lodge, formerly the Hotel 
Hesperides, were sold to the City of Tacoma in 
1936 by A.J. Titlow due to his financial problems. 
He had built the three-story, chalet-style hotel 
in 1910 and named it "The Hesperides" in honor of 
his three daughers. Originally it boasted a top 
rated restaurant, a boat dock for visiting digni- 
taries, a trout lake for fishing, a golf course, 
tennis courts and a peacock farm. After purchase 
by the city the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administra- 
tion) was commissioned to remove the hotel's top 
two floors. A bath house with a small food con- 
cession was built on the soutwest shore of the 
lagoon. 

We would leave home in mid-morning for Titlow 
beach, take our brown bag lunch with baloney or 
peanut butter sandwiches, and return late in the 
afternoon with a parent or neighbor transporting 
us. Across the railroad embankment from the la- 
goon, along the Sound's beach, were large, flat 
rocks, warmed by the sun. They provided natural 
resting spots for eating lunch and sunbathing. Low 
tide was a beachcomber's delight. Marine life a- 
bounded around the boat dock pilings; sea anemones 
tentacles danced to the water's rhythm, displaying 
all the beautiful colors imaginable; baby crabs 
scurried as we explored under rocks, little claws 
lifted towards us in warning. We never tired of 
marine life, always alert to discover something 
new. 

Roaming through Point Defiance Park was another 
adventure; viewing the deer, bear and other zoo 
animals; surveying the aquarium tank displays of 
various fish, octopuses, sea plants, etc., (when 
we had ten cents for admission); admiring the beau- 
tiful floral gardens, walking the wooded trails 
and splashing on the beach, seldom swimming in the 
numbing cold water. The aquarium was built out 
over the water on pilings at the south side of the 
boathouse, a short distance south of the Vashon 
Island Ferry Dock. It was fun to see "Dub Dub" the 


55 


celebrity seal. He was only a pup and had his 
private tank outside the front entrance of the 
aquarium where he greeted visitors daily with 
stagey barks and splashes. He was a favorite 
to watch since he was amusing and no admission 
was required. 

People were enchanted with the opening of the 
Narrows Bridge on July 1, 1940. The enchantment 
was shortlived as a 50-knot windstorm on November 
7, 1940 turned Galloping Gertie's concrete and 
steel into a semblance of twisted chewing gum, 
dangling from support towers to water. The news 
was shocking! One year later, December 7, 1941, 
more shocking news came when the Japanese bombed 
Pearl Harbor. The first testing of the air-raid 
warning system installed at North 26th and Proctor 
produced a loud-screaming siren that could be 
heard many blocks around. I was so frightened I 
ran home in tears. Rationing was imposed in 1942 
with coupon books going to each member of a family 
for limiting the purchase of shoes, meat and sugar. 
The owner of each vehicle was presented coupons 
limiting the amount of gasoline purchasable for a 
month. The neighborhood mood changed from opti- 
mism to more somber thoughts. We moved from the 
Sixth and Proctor neighborhood in 1943 when my fa- 
ther bought a house near Sixth Avenue and Sprague 
Street. 

Many changes have transformed Tacoma since World 
War II; freeways, shopping malls, new structures, 
and most importantly, people's mobility. The Sixth 
and Proctor shopping district was never to experi- 
ence the growth those early businessmen had dreamed 
and planned for. 


56 


THE ST. PAUL AVENUE COMMUNITY 

By J. L. Sundquist 

The Tacoma Daily Ledger of January 1, 1890, re- 
ported on the progress of the St. Paul and Tacoma 
Lumber Company's mill which had begun construction 
in June of 1888 on "the Boot." Also built were "a 
number of substantial frame dwellings for the sup- 
erintendents of different departments and other em- 
ployees whom it is advisable to have constantly on 
the grounds." A boarding house was also built, 
with 100 rooms, billiard and pool rooms, and shower 
baths used by white laborers. Some 16 houses were 
built east of the hotel, ostensibly for supervi- 
sory personnel. On the other end another hotel was 
built for Japanese laborers, complete with a Japa- 
nese hot bath. All the buildings were painted the 
colors of the company, a dark red with a white trim. 

House Number One was completed January 1, 1890, 
at a cost of $636.08. Of 11 houses built in the 
next year, the cost ranged from $413.25 to $741.73. 
Some attendant costs noted were: 3000 feet of lum- 
ber at $18; 800 bricks, $8.50, and 6 hours of labor 
at $1.20. The boarding house records for 1905 show 
that C.W. Hull was charged $18.60 for 93 meals, 20 
cents per meal, and 45 cents for laundry. The cook 
received $70 for 31 days work and the chambermaid 
$25. The houses did not remain for superintendents 
but became homes for workers in the mill, both Cau- 
casian and Japanese. The company provided electri- 
city, steam heat, and hot and cold water to each 
house without charge. The monthly rent was about $9 
which was deducted from the workers' paychecks. 

In 1919, my father began working for St. Paul as 
a machinist and welder and our family moved into 
Number 12 house. My brother Elmer, at age 8, re- 
members that the fire station next to the boarding 
house had a steam engine which was pulled by horses. 
When the alarm rang, one fireman had the job of kin- 
dling the fire in the firebox in the steam engine. 


57 


At that time a double street car track ran down 
in front of the houses and a double row of open- 
sided street cars would be waiting, perhaps 30 
cars, for the whistle to blow and hundreds of wor- 
kers would pour out of the mill and run for the 
street cars. 

We moved away for awhile but returned and lived 
in House Number One from 1929 to 1934. The Tacoma 
City Directory of 1931 listed the following resi- 
dents: St. Paul Hotel manager, Charles E.Dashiell, 
House 31, E.W. Sundquist; #2, Mrs. Frances Mat- 
thews; #3, Wm. Vite; #4, Wm. Phillips; #5, Katsuo 
Mogi ; #6, Thomas Mostrom; #7, Charles E. Lane; #8 
Tashiro Matsui ; #10, Katsuki Butsuda; #11, S. Sato; 
#12, Y. Yamamoto; #14, B. Watanabe; #20, Paul K. 
Inouye; #21, T. Asada. The memories of some of 
these have dimmed but flashes of clear moments are 
recalled by others. 

The Dashiells operated the hotel and restaurant. 

In the rear they kept some chicken coops. I re- 
member Mrs. Dashiell opening a coop, taking out two 
chickens and, holding the heads one in each hand, 
spinning the bodies like a jumping rope until the 
bodies flew off, flopping, even running a few steps 
with the neck on the ground. She waited calmly un- 
til they stopped, then picked them up. 

The Mogis lived in #5. Katsuo was a friend, who 
let me ride his beautiful new bicycle which I prompt- 
ly wrecked, turning the front wheel into a perfect 
figure eight! 

In #6 lived the Mostroms, a large family. Mr. 
Mostrom would sit on the front porch and play a man- 
dolin or sometimes play cribbage with one of his 
children. There was Leonard, Snooky, Vinnie, and 
the twins, Howard and Ginnie, and others. They 
said, "Youse," when they talked, had sallow complex- 
ions, and their mother was a quiet, patient woman. 


58 


The Lanes lived in #7; Mr. and Mrs. and Buddy, 
who worked in the mill. They had a Buick, a mag- 
nificent Buick, sitting in front of their house 
with its massive wooden-spoked wheels and their 
distinctive Buick hubcaps. It was a touch of 
class for the avenue. 

In #8 lived the envy of many of the Japanese fa- 
thers in the area for Mr. Matsui had six sons, 
while the others could boast of only two at most. 
Takanobu, or Tak, was a friend of mine and we 
played cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians. 

On their back porch was a tall wooden tank which 
I later came to know as a Japanese soaking tub. 

An alley ran between #8 and #10 where the Butsu- 
das lived. Mr. Butsuda was a quiet, gentle man. 
Their backyard was a green oasis dominated by a 
weeping willow tree. My sister and Chiyo were 
close friends. 

In #11 lived the Satos. Fumi was a personal 
friend of my sister Ivedell. We never knew then 
that Fumi would become the mother of a television 
newsman, but of course, television was just a 
dream in some scientists' minds at that time. 

Another friend of mine, Rentaro Yamamoto, lived 
in #12. I never knew until years later that our 
family had lived in that house at one time. 

At the end of the avenue stood the Japanese 
boarding house. Elmer remembers watching people 
engaged in the Japanese fencing sport of kendo with 
padding, masks and bamboo swords. Ivy remembers 
going down with her Japanese girl friends to use 
the hot water pool . 

Down the front of the houses there was a wooden 
sidewalk made of two-by- fours laid crosswise. An 
alley ran between the hotel and #1 and then behind 
the houses and alongside a timber-lined slough a- 
bout ten feet wide and six feet deep. 


59 


The slough ran from the city waterway near 15th 
Street and the water rose and fell with the tide. 
On the other side of the slough was Carstens Pack- 
ing Company and its corrals, where cattle and pigs 
were kept until slaughtered. We could hear the 
squeel ing of pigs and cries of cattle as they were 
killed and the odors of offal and refuse were car- 
ried to St. Paul Avenue. As children we became so 
used to the smell that when visitors would ask us, 
"What is that terrible smell?" we would answer, 
"What smell?" Some said that Carstens let some of 
the refuse into the slough and there were many gi- 
ant rats which lived in the slough. City pest 
control men came occasionally to spread rat poison 
to keep some control. We lost seven dogs to that 
poison. Some of the houses had outdoor privies 
built over the slough with walkways leading to 
them and when someone used the privies their dona- 
tions fell into the slough and the receding tides 
carried the effluence away. Mama said that Elmer 
fell into the slough once but someone pulled him 
out. Mama washed him off and he was as "good as 


Across from the houses loomed the mill and we 
children were taught not to play there. We played 
in the street, the alley, and wandered down the 
Avenue and over the Puyallup River bridge through 
an area of Depression shacks known as Hollywood- 
on-the-Tideflats. Here lived families who had 
lost everything in the Depression but their Yankee 
ingenuity. On the fringes of Hollywood were smal- 
ler shacks of single men who had dropped off 
freight trains, found boards and pieces of tin, and 
fashioned shelters from the rain. People said 
that tramps left markers for others of houses where 
food could be asked for and there must have been 
one for our house because many would knock at our 
back door and Mama would always give them a dish 
of food and coffee. They would always eat sitting 
on the back steps. If Papa would hear about a sick 
man in a shack he would take a plate of food to 
him. Nearby was the city dump, with small shacks 


60 


of men who made their living picking over the gar- 
bage. Thousands of rats roamed the dump. 

One time the Johnson Paint Company had a fire 
and sent loads of smoke-damaged goods to the dump. 
We brought home gallons of paint, wallpaper, and 
sacks of cal somine. We painted the inside of our 
chicken coop a blazing pink and then wondered why 
the chickens quit laying eggs! 

Papa would feed the chickens before he went to 
work. One morning he came back in and said to 

Mama, "Well, we won't have to feed the chickens 

anymore!" She asked why and he replied, "Because 
someone took them all last night!" They had wrung 

their necks, left the heads on the floor, and no 

doubt stuck the bodies in a sack. There was one 
black hen left sitting alone. They had probably 
missed her in the dark. 

Going to school was an adventure. In the early 
days the school district had provided a school 
with one or two teachers, in a former boathouse 
but had finally closed it. In 1929 we walked up 
to the junction of St. Paul Avenue and 15th Street 
where the street car line ended. Sometimes we had 
to wait while a Shea locomotive with its spinning 
gears and pistons pushed a load of logs across the 
street to the logpond. The street car, long and 
dark green, would come to the end of the tracks, 
the motorman would get down, pull down the trolley 
on one end, go to the other end and let the trol- 
ley up to the wire. Then he would roll the name 
of the destination in the window above the wind- 
shield. The seats were rattan and the backs had 
to be moved to face in the other direction. He 
would let us do that and we would walk down the 
aisle, slamming the seats back. There was a pedal 
on the floor which, when pushed sharply, gave a 
clang as a warning. People getting on would drop 
their nickel in the coin box and the motorman would 
turn a little handle on the side. The coins would 
tumble down several chutes and fall to the bottom. 


61 


Then he would turn a little lever on the side 
which opened a trapdoor and the coins fell down 
where he could pick them up and put them in coin 
holders. 

The street car clattered up St. Paul Avenue and 
over the 11th Street bridge. We got off at 11th 
and A Street at Douglas' Cigar Store, presided 
over by the genial and ponderous Mr. Douglas. He 
had a large and purple-tinted nose. A massive 
cigar lighter stood on the counter and emitted a 
large flame if a lever was depressed. 

We would take the orange cable car up 11 th Street 
to G and get off at the grey castle-like County 
Courthouse. Some days we would stop at a little 
grocery store on 9th and G. Many times milk mon- 
ey was invested in "lucky bites." The bald-headed 
owner would take out a box of chocolate-covered 
mints, we would make our choice and take a bite, 
and if it was pink inside we won a whole candy 
bar. 

We attended Central School and Mont Downing was 
the principal, a genial, soft-spoken man. Chil- 
dren came as far away as Marine View Drive. There 
were a number of Japanese-American students , eager 
and dedicated to excellence, who were tough compe- 
tition. After a day at Central they would troop 
down to their own school at 19th and Tacoma Avenue 
to attend classes in Japanese language and culture. 
My older sister, Ivedell, enjoyed school so much 
she went with them. At their festivals a tall 
blonde Sedish-American girl danced solemnly in a 
kimona with her dark-haired, almond-eyed Japanese- 
American friends. 

Almost every night I would walk down 11th Street, 
through downtown and across the 11th Street bridge. 
Sometimes I would stop and lean over the bridge 
and watch a giant multiple saw cut blocks of mar- 
ble into slabs at a plant under the bridge or wat- 
ch the ship Virginia V at the dock between trips 


62 


to Seattle. About a block down St. Paul Avenue 
was the St. Paul company store, a huge building 
which did $300,000 worth of business in 1931. It 
was run by a "Mutt and Jeff" combination of Scan- 
dinavians named Olson and Stromberg. A long coun- 
ter ran down the south wall with some rounded top 
glass showcases on the top. The ceiling was lof- 
ty and dark. Employees could buy groceries and 
clothing and other things and have the charges de- 
ducted from their paychecks. The accounts were 
kept in little account books stored in a drawer. 

The Washington Handle Company was further down 
the Avenue. At the end of the building was an 
open door where one could watch a man pushing wood 
forms through a machine which rounded them and an- 
other man stacked them on a wooden cart. Somewhere 
they were painted and wrapped into bundles. When 
railroad boxcars were brought alongside the build- 
ing little chutes could be let down into the cars 
and bundles of broom-handles could be slid down 
and stacked inside. It was as if the building was 
a giant animal, laying eggs of all colors. 

Along the streets and near the river were great 
clumps of wild blackberries and many a bucket was 
filled by boys and girls as well as men and women. 
Some were sold to restaurants for pies but most 
were canned by families for winter use. Mama had 
shelves and shelves of home-canned fruits and veg- 
etables. We always had a garden in the backyard 
where Mama grew vegetables and Papa grew roses. 

St. Paul Avenue is an empty stretch of sand and 
weeds now. The war scattered the Japanese-Americans 
across the country following their internment. 

Their children continued a search for knowledge and 
are now teachers, doctors, artists and even a tele- 
vision newsman. The gentle Mr. Butsuda and his 
beautiful willow tree are both gone. You cannot 
hear Mr. Mostrom play his mandolin or see the Lanes' 
Buick; Hollywood-on-the-Tideflats is but a memory 
like Papa working on his car on a Saturday after- 


63 


noon and Mama standing over the wood stove, check- 
ing Sunday dinner by sticking her finger in the 
gravy and tasting it. 

Those who still remember St. Paul Avenue have 
special memories of parents, brothers and sisters, 
playmates and friends, and the incidents that made 
St. Paul Avenue a special place. It was a good 
place to grow up. 


64 


FERN HILL 
My Neighborhood 

By Mary Olson 

In my childhood, during the late twenties and 
early thirties, 84th Street from Berger's on Paci- 
fic to Andy's Place on Park Avenue, was known as 
Fern Hill. Berger's was a grocery store and meat 
market and also a farm supply store. Andy's was a 
candy store, famous among the neighborhood kids 
for it's penny candy; a big block of Baker's choc- 
olate cost only a nickel. If you purchased choco- 
late drops, at two for a nickel and were lucky e- 
nough to pick one with a pink center, you got a 
chance on the punchboard. There was no age limit, 
so apparently no one was worrying about corrupting 
our morals in that way. I once won a beautiful 
box of chocolates which I proudly gave to my moth- 
er as a Christmas gift. There was always a card 
game going on in Andy's living quarters in back of 
the store. Little girls weren't allowed back 
there. 

Andy was a great favorite with the boys. He was 
a Tacoma baseball legend from boyhood to his mid- 
fifties. Andy Nelson was a right-hand pitcher who 
was said to have a "million dollar arm." One morn- 
ing when he and his brother were teen-agers, they 
went hunting southwest of Wapato Lake. His brother 
accidentally dropped his shotgun, it fired and the 
pellets shattered Andy's right ankle, causing a 
life-long limp. Since he was an especially fast 
pitcher with a strong pitching arm, he was allowed 
to have someone else run the bases for him. 

There were two other grocery stores in Fern Hill, 
both on Park Avenue. One was a Piggly-Wiggly with 
a meat market which was owned by A1 Stiedel. He al- 
ways handed out wieners to hungry little girls who 
came in with their mothers. The other was owned by 
Henry Coblentz, who gave credit. This was really a 
general store and you could buy anything there and 


65 


put it on the "tab" but only with a note from your 
mother. 

To the north, on Park Avenue, was the post of- 
fice; the post-mistress was a Miss Byrd. I was in 
awe of her; she worked for the "Government." About 
mid-way down the block was the little shop of the 
shoemaker. As a little child I can remember going 
in there and enjoying the various smells of leath- 
er and oil but later, during the depression. Dad 
repaired our shoes. He felt very strongly that 
every man should hire work done whenever he could 
in order to provide employment for as many men as 
possible, but apparently the lack of money finally 
forced him to do the work himself. He was a roofer 
and really got upset when he saw other men roofing 
their own houses. 

The Odd Fellows Hall was at the corner of 82nd 
and Park Avenue. When I was a teen-ager the Mor- 
mons had dances there every Thursday and I loved 
to dance. Most of the people in Fern Hill were 
Baptists or Methodists who did not allow dancing. 
They also didn't believe in playing cards or drink- 
ing, all of which we decadent Catholics did, in 
moderation, of course! They would not allow a mov- 
ie house in Fern Hill, so we had to walk all the 
way to 48th and Yakima to the Capitol Theater to 
see a movie. 

At any rate, we teen-agers welcomed the Mormons 
with open arms and attended all their dances. The 
Catholics had a dance on Saturdays. On other even- 
ings of the week we attended the youth groups at 
the Baptist or Methodist Churches or went to the 
Holy Rollers to hear them sing. Even Dad and Mo- 
ther would sometimes go to the Holy Roller meetings 
because Mother loved the singing too. When they 
sang they really raised the roof. I'll never for- 
get that enthusiastic singing to the Lord; so dif- 
ferent from our solemn Latin hymns to God or our 
joyous songs to Mary. My cousin, Pete Nephew, was 
a preacher there. 


66 


I remember attending a baptism service at Wapa- 
to Lake when the colored Baptists dipped the peo- 
ple being baptized under the water. They were in 
white robes and the robes would float to the top 
of the water when they went under. Such joyous 
singing! 

I'm glad I had such an all-inclusive religious 
upbringing; it only made me stronger in my own 
faith, but made me more tolerant of others. We 
were always taught that if we were prejudiced a- 
gainst others they in turn would be prejudiced a- 
gainst us. 

There were card parties put on in an old build- 
ing across 82nd from the Odd Fellows Hall, spon- 
sored by the "Townsend Club," a group trying to get 
pensions for old people. Communists also had a 
club in Fern Hill and had card parties and dances 
occasionally. We went to them all. 

Continuing our tour of Fern Hill, we turn down 
82nd Street to Harmon Playfield, our neighborhood 
park. It had a baseball field, wading pool, swings, 
slides and a volleyball court. Many of our summer 
days were spent there. 

We gathered fruit from the yards of all the va- 
cant houses in the area. Apples, plums, cherries, 
pears and berries of all kinds; whatever was in sea- 
son. Then we'd head for the park to fill our tum- 
mies with our stolen goodies; I don't even remember 
having a belly-ache. 

Next to the park was St. Ann's Home, an orphanage 
run by the Sisters of St. Francis. I had four cou- 
sins who lived there. Their mother had died giving 
birth to the youngest girl and the father, not being 
capable of caring for them, had placed them there. 
Children lived there until they were 16 years old. 

As each child reached that ripe old age they were 
placed in a job, either in someone's home or under 
someone's protection. From then on they were 


67 


expected to care for themselves. It seemed to 
work. At St. Ann's children received their room, 
board and education and even the youngest were ex- 
pected to do chores. I remember going to play 
with my cousin, Evelyn Nephew, who was about my 
age, and seeing two-and three-year-olds folding 
napkins and placing them on the table in prepara- 
tion for dinner. The little children each had a 
"big brother" or "sister" to help them. The girls 
learned to sew and made all the clothes for the 
children and helped with the cooking and cleaning. 
St. Ann's had its own one room school house and its 
own laundry, run by the sisters with the help of 
the older children. Sparks from the chimney set 
the roof on fire in 1938; Tacoma firemen praised 
the sisters for training the children so well in 
fire drills. The orderly manner in which they 
marched out of the building freed the firemen to 
devote their time to laying the more than 1000 feet 
of hose that was needed to reach the nearest hy- 
drant. After the fire the home was moved from the 
old Woolsey mansion by the park to the Kemp estate 
at 6602 South Alaska, near Wapato Lake. 

Just south of the Piggly-Wiggly on Park Avenue 
was the home of our neighborhood druggist, Mr. The- 
odore Cram. His drugstore was on the front of his 
lot. I loved the smell of horehound cough drops 
that always greeted you at the door. We kids ate 
them like candy. 

Next came the public school where there was a 
patch of four-leaf clover in the front lawn. We'd 
go there to see how many we could find but never 
seemed to feel any superstition about them. My 
brothers and I took the streetcar to Holy Rosary 
School, 502 South 30th, so I never had the exper- 
ience of attending public grade school but on Wed- 
nesday evenings the Fern Hill School was opened for 
all children to come and play. We took advantage 
of the opportunity and flocked to skate in the base- 
ment or dance in the gym. Especially if it was 
raining. I can even remember watching a movie in 


68 


the gym there; "Three Little Words," with Amos and 
Andy. How they ever got that past the church peo- 
ple I don't know but then they had dancing, too, so 
perhaps even then the schools were leading the way 
to a freer lifestyle. 

Behind the Piggly-Wiggly store, toward Yakima 
Avenue, was a lumber yard owned by a family named 
Rostedt, the Roy Lumber Company. I thought they 
were rich since they lived in a beautiful home near 
82nd and Park. There was quite a mixture of rich 
and poor in the neighborhood and we kids obviously 
didn't pay any attention to how much money our par- 
ents did or didn't have. 

Between 78th and 82nd and South Tacoma Avenue and 
Winnetka Street, was a large wooded area where I 
spent much of my childhood. I climbed trees, roam- 
ed through the woods with my friends, pretended to 
be Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn. Perhaps we were pi- 
rates, just landed, looking for buried treasure. 

We climbed to the top of fir trees and swayed back 
and forth, pretending we were at the top of the 
main mast of some great ship at sea. Wonderful days 
full of wonderful adventures! 

There was a deep ravine by the path that ran 
through the woods where the boys had hung a long 
rope from a fir tree that grew near the edge of the 
gully. We would grab the rope and run as hard as 
we could and jump off over the abyss, swinging far 
out over the creek that ran at the bottom. I was 
amazed when I went back many years later to find 
that this tall cliff, as I thought of it, was only 
about seven feet high. 


69 



Funeral cortege of Steven Babare, 1910. Courtesy 
of Mary Babare Love. 




70 


THE SLAVS AND OLD TOWN 
By Wilma Snyder 

From a transcript made of an interview 
with MaryBabare Love, conducted by 
Ruth L. Wett as part of an oral history 
project sponsored by the Tacoma Public 
Library in 1976. 

I was born at home at North 32nd and White Street 
in Old Town. Mrs. Hannah Lind, a midwife who lived 
at 2614 Starr Street, assisted at the delivery. 

Mrs. Lind used to take each new baby to visit 
other babies in the neighborhood. 

My parents had come from Austria-Hungary, now 
known as Yoguslavia. They had lived in the town 
of Starigrad on the Island of Hvar in Dalmatia on 
the Adriatic Coast. My Father had been a ship- 
builder and immigrated to Tacoma because he had 
heard there was fishing here and it would be a good 
place to build boats. 

He married before he left the old country in 1879. 
My parents' first child was born when he was in Am- 
erica, but it died before he ever saw it. The 
death of the child caused him to return to his na- 
tive land where he remained for four years. Two 
boys and two girls were born during that time. Ma- 
king a living was difficult in Starigrad, so he re- 
turned to Tacoma and started a shipyard of his own. 
It was located next to the Crawford and Reid Ship- 
yard on North 31st between Steele and White Streets. 
The railroad tracks were between the shipyards and 
the water, but they could be opened by a switch 
whenever a boat was to be launched. 

The depression of 1893 deterred my father from 
bringing his family to America until 1899. My Mo- 
ther said of her first year in Tacoma, "The sun did- 
n't shine from September to June." One sister and 
I were born after our family's reuniting in Tacoma. 


71 


The community in Old Town grew in the early 
1900' s. Men from Dalmatia came here as sailors, 
jumped ship and went to work in the lumber mills. 
They came from all regions of Austria-Hungary, 
Slavonia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Albania, but 
all the people generally became known as Slavs. 

My Mother and Father could speak Croation, Slavon- 
ian and Italian. My Father wouldn't speak German 
although he must have known the language, as he 
served in the German Navy for three or four years 
before he came to America (Austria-Hungary was un- 
der German rule at that time). 

Scandinavians had settled in Old Town as well as 
Slavs, and the two nationalities used to get into 
battle; but if an outsider "picked" on either 
group, they stuck together like clams. Some of 
both nationalities became fishermen and if any of 
the Slavs had worked in mines in Europe, they 
headed for Carbonado, Roslyn, and other mining 
towns in the mountains. 

The stores in Old Town catered to all our needs. 
The Rabasa Brothers had a grocery store at 2424 
North 30th Street, and on the same side of the 
street at 2408, the Ursich Brothers operated a meat 
market. Some of the Scandinavians had stores and 
we patronized them also. We were one big family 
down there. We didn't feel isolated even though we 
were somewhat removed from the rest of the town. 

There was one place where I did feel isolated, 
and that was at school . My Father had had an argu- 
ment with the nuns and so put us all in Lowell 
School. I didn't know any English when I started 
First grade and had an accent as I tried to learn a 
new language. By the time I finished the eighth 
grade, I no longer felt isolated. 

Our house was right across the tracks from the 
water. Bulkheads were made of railroad ties and we 
used to sit on them and watch the tides going in 
and out. I remember once, when I was about four or 


72 


five, a tank which had evidently fallen from a 
ship, floated in on the tide. Some of the men 
tried to open it and when they couldn't, decided 
to light a fire under it to see if they could lo- 
osen the cover. My brother came running home, mad 
as a hornet, to get my Father. "They're going to 
kill themselves," he said. We soon heard an ex- 
plosion. My brother was right; one man who was 
severely injured, died. Two or three others were 
badly burned. It taught them a lesson: to leave 
tanks with unknown contents alone. 

Thirtieth Street was part of the business dis- 
trict, but 31st and 32nd were mainly residential. 
Streets running perpendicular to the numbered 
streets were Starr, McCarver, Carr, Steele and 
White. There was one business on 32nd, at 2804, 
a macaroni factory run by Andrew Martino! ich. We 
always had some kind of pasta in soup, which was 
usually a 1 unch di sh. 

A police station was on the northeast corner of 
Thirtieth and Starr and a saloon was located on 
the southeast corner. The Franke Holmes Cigar and 
Candy Store was at the same intersection, at 2223 
North 30th. The flour mills were on the water side 
of the tracks farther on toward downtown Tacoma. 

The Sperry Mill had a tunnel. The streetcar from 
town didn't come through the tunnel. On Sundays, 
my Mother and Father dressed us up and we caught 
the Old Town streetcar to downtown. We would walk 
around downtown, then take a streetcar to the 
wharves for more strolling. On the return trip, 
we walked back through the tunnel. I can remember 
seeing hundreds of people all dressed in their Sun- 
day best, walking through the tunnel toward home 
after their Sunday excursion. 

Between Starr and McCarver, on the water side of 
Thirtieth, there used to be a restaurant. A Wil- 
liam A. Timm operated it at 2314 North 30th. He 
had a daughter, Gladys, who went to school with me. 
Once or twice a week we would stop there on the way 


73 


home from school and her parents would serve us 
soup and crackers. 

Belsvig's Grocery and a shoe store were located 
across the street from the restaurant. Some years 
later, Constanti's Theater was located on the pre- 
vious site of a bakery. We went to the theater 
occasionally if our Mother took us. It only cost 
a nickel at Constanti's. There was a pool hall 
in the business section of Old Town and the 1910 
City Directory listed a saloon at 2121 North 30th, 
the site of the present Spar Tavern. Actually, 
the same city directory lists seven saloons in a 
two-block stretch of 30th Street. One of the 
most important stores to me was Mezeral's Ice 
Cream Parlor. It was furnished with the typical 
twisted-wire legged tables and chairs familiar to 
ice cream stores. Whenever I had a nickel to 
spend, that is where I went. 

A hotel, later converted into an apartment, was 
housed in a brick building at the present side of 
the sub-station on the southeast corner of 30th 
and Carr. Across the street on the water side 
was a saloon with apartments on the second floor; 
it was rumored that bootleggers lived there. 

Thirtieth street was a popular place for kids 
when there was enough snow to go sledding. One 
time a sled coming down 30th veered and went right 
through a door of a saloon. Everyone moved very 
fast, including the persons on the sled, and the 
riders were never identified! I used to slide 
down 30th, but I practically had to be carried on 
the sled, as I wasn't very brave. 

Constanti's Grocery Store was across the street 
from the Slavonian Hall with two little houses 
nearby, one owned by Mrs. Nick Rabasa. The Beri- 
tich family owned a little square house in the 
same neighborhood, and a son still lived there in 
1976. Some of the Beritichs' shortened thei r name 
to Berry. A policeman. Holly Murphy (how did an 


74 


Irishman get in there!), lived on the corner of 
Thirtieth and White. He was sympathetic to drunks 
and just locked them up overnight so they could 
sober up. (I think he imbibed a little, himself.) 

The Mountaineers Club on the southeast corner of 
Thirtieth and Carr, is located on the former site 
of a livery stable. Going on up 30th, was the 
Slavonian Hall and McKenzies, another livery sta- 
ble. The railroad station at 30th and McCarver 
was built in 1913-14. Previous to that, a hospital 
had stood near there. It was run by a Dr. Sargen- 
tich and was used mainly for sailors off ships 
that came into the harbor. 

Johnson's Grocery was situated on what is now 
known as the Old Town Dock. It was later taken 
over by a Mr. Zelinsky. Mr. Milo E. Stewart had a 
boathouse near the dock, but the strong north winds 
proved to be too severe for boat moorage and he 
gave up the business. Next to the dock was a fish 
market owned by Iddro Budinich. Three 1 i ttle iden- 
tical houses were located nearby. They were all 
gray with white trim. All had identical porches, 
but the houses were torn down about the time of 
World War I to make way for a machine shop and a 
blacksmith shop. 

In 1901, a 50 foot lot could be purchased for 
$1500 and sometimes lots could be purchased for 
back taxes. Next door to our house, a Mrs. Pet- 
rich owned a boarding house. She was a widow ma- 
king a living on her own. Another boarding house 
was owned by the Radonich family, across the tracks 
from the Dickman Mill. The Puget Sound Lumber Com- 
pany was near Dickman' s. One time a steamer mis- 
sed that mill's dock and almost grounded itself. 
The Defiance Mill was closer to the Smelter, and a 
shingle mill and a brickyard were built on the 
land side of the tracks. 

The only house in that area was owned by a Mrs. 
Pierce. She had a nice sandy beach in front of her 


75 


house where my Mother used to take my sisters and 
me swimming. (The sandy beach is still there.) 
Mrs. Pierce was from the East and had a closet 
full of fancy dresses. My sisters used to love 
to go there to swim because they would be invited 
in to see the beautiful clothes. 

The Slavonian Lodge played an important part in 
the social life of the community. Originally it 
was for men only. Women had church-going and 
home gatherings for their social life. For some 
time, there was not even an Altar Society for wo- 
men, but when one was formed, they continued the 
responsibility of saying a Novena, a reciting of 
the rosary, for nine days after a funeral. The 
Lodge helped whenever there was a death. All Lodge 
members were required to attend funerals of fellow 
members. They brought the body to the family home 
for the wake and the next morning the Lodge mem- 
bers marched in front of the horse-drawn hearse, 
up to St. Patrick's for the Mass. A band from the 
Lodge led the procession. After the Mass, Lodge 
members marched down to 17th and Jefferson where 
the streetcar turn-around was located. The band 
would take up positions on either side of the 
street. The men took off their derbies and held 
them over their hearts as the band played "Nearer, 
My God, To Thee." Then the hearse took the body 
to Calvary Cemetery at 5212 70th West. 

My Father died when I was about nine, and he had 
a funeral like that. They took a picture of him 
in his coffin for my brother who was in Alaska and 
who couldn't get home in time for the funeral. As 
my father was dying, Halley's Comet was making an 
appearance. I have very vivid memories of watch- 
ing it at night and of the adults trying to keep 
the excited children as quiet as possible. In 
those days, we all had to wear black dresses and 
hats for about a year after a death. My sister 
had just been hired for her first job and had 
bought herself a beautiful white serge suit. She 
gave it away and bought a black one. My Mother 


76 


didn't like putting her children in black, but she 
felt she had to do what other people expected. She 
made us promise we wouldn't wear black for her. 
After my Father's death, my brother Nick started a 
shipyard of his own and took care of us financial- 
ly. A Mr. Charles Cuclich, a meat cutter at 2206 
No. 30th, was the last person to have an elaborate 
funeral. By that time, cars were used as hearses 
and they went too fast for marching processions. 

It was often difficult for widows to keep their 
families together after the death of their hus- 
bands. I knew a young girl, Ann Cuculich, whose 
mother took in boarders after her husband died. In 
order to earn some spending money of her own, the 
girl would haul a wagon down to the fishing boats 
when they docked and load it with the seamen's dir- 
ty clothes, then haul the clothing to the laundry. 
Up and down the street she went, earning a very 
little bit of money, but it seemed like a lot to 
her. 

Some of the women found work outside of house- 
hold chores. Mrs. Budrovich used to make raincoats 
for the fishermen from a heavy material, similar to 
sailcloth. After they were sewn, she soaked them 
in oil for days and days. It was hard and heavy 
work but she didn't seem to mind. Everyone worked 
hard; families were large and that meant a lot of 
work for fathers to support them and for mothers to 
maintain the home. 

Kids didn't have playfields, but there were lots 
of places for us to entertain ourselves. We played 
hide-and-seek and run-sheep-run in the wooded areas. 
We played on the beach, the dock, and we visited 
each others' homes. Even if those homes were very 
poor, it made no difference to us; whatever the cir- 
cumstances, women managed to keep their homes neat 
and shiny clean. 

In the summer when many of the men were away from 
home fishing, the women had endless hours to spend 


77 


alone or with children. They used to go down to 
the water's edge where they would build a fire to 
keep the mosquitoes away while they spent their 
time knitting, crocheting and gossiping. 

In 1912, a Women's Lodge made up of a group of 
Slavonian women was formed, which broadened soci al 
activities. Dances were held at the Hall with 
whole families attending. Fruit and candy were 
served during the dance and at midnight elaborate 
meals of sauerkraut, barbecued lamb, oranges, cakes 
and pastries, were enjoyed. There was one special 
dance that the Lodge gave known as the "Three Kings 
Dance," a celebration of Epiphany, twelve days af- 
ter Christmas, January 6. People came from Seattle, 
Portland, Everett and Bellingham, spending as much 
as two or three days in Tacoma. They came by train 
and seemed to enjoy the reuniting of their national 
groups. 

Boat launchings were always big events. At one 
launching, my oldest brother's wife was to be the 
sponsor of the boat. She was waiting in the office 
until she was needed, but the boat started going 
down the slip faster than expected. My younger 
brother grabbed the bottle of champagne and the 
bouquet of flowers, rushed to the launching ramp 
and threw the bottle, not the bouquet, and said, 
"Damn ya, I gotcha!" The launching was covered by 
a reporter and the newspaper story commended my 
brother for throwing the bottle and not the bouquet 
and then questioned if the name of the boat was to 
be... "Damn ya, I gotcha!" 

Captains from Seattle, Bellingham and other coast- 
al towns often stayed at our house before the laun- 
ching of their boats. Gig Harbor was used for win- 
ter moorage to avoid the north wind at Old Town. 

The wind also made keeping the house warm a prob- 
lem; wood stoves were all we had for heating. We 
had a well in the basement of our house. My Father 
was quite an inventor and he installed a pump so 


78 


water could be pumped to the kitchen for washing 
dishes and clothes. He also built a wooden toilet 
in the house, and the water was flushed into the 
bay. (It would be against the law now.) We were 
the only ones in the neighborhood who had indoor 
pi umbi ng. 

There were sad things that happened in our neigh- 
borhood. One day, Mr. Tony Petrich was going to 
move a little white house while his wife attended 
a funeral. During the moving, the support blocks 
slipped, the house fell on him and he was killed. 
Another time a three-year-old girl fell off a bri- 
dge into the gulch on 31st Street. My sister car- 
ried her to Tacoma General Hospital where she lat- 
er died. It was sad for me, a nine-year-old girl, 
to witness that accident. 

There were good times, too. On Sunday afternoon 
the men would buy a jug of wine and play bocce 
ball. That was big entertainment for them; that 
and playing cards. The women played cards and bin- 
go too, but not out in public--they went to each 
others' homes. Weddings were times of great cele- 
brations. The Slavs tended to marry among their 
own kind-- very few married outsiders. We celebrat- 
ed church holidays and "name" days rather than 
birthdays. 

After the start of World War I, all the ship- 
yards had to do contract jobs for the government. 
Before that time they had been turning out about : 
one fishing boat every 48 hours. During the war, 
some immigrants went back to their native lands to 
join those armies. A group of people from Old Town 
marched to the depot to see them off. Some of the 
young kids threw rocks at them. 

After World War I, people began to mingle more, 
but if an Irishman got in a fight, the Slavs and 
Norwegians would join forces against him. At one 
time there was a big battle in the Lodge as to which 
group was to be in charge, the Austrians or the 


79 


Slavonians. Men physically fought each other; in 
fact, one man bit off the ear of another. One 
went to the hospital and the other to jail, each 
one crying for the other and for the fact that 
they had been drunk. They were good friends be- 
fore and afterward. 

It was a fairly decent community, no burglariz- 
ing or anything like that. We didn't lock our do- 
ors. I have a pleasant memory of making daisy 
chains from flowers picked in the lot next to St. 
Peter's Church. Old Town was a good place to live. 

+ + + + + + 

In 1976 Mary Barbare Love published a cook book. 
The first recipe in Mrs. Love's book is for Sala- 
muniti, an appetizer, which may be made from her- 
ring or small trout or smelt. Mrs. Love prefaces 
this recipe with the words, "A good Slav has no 
need for an appetizer, just show him food and he 
is ready to eat. For some reason they figured 
out the idea that they needed something to stimu- 
late their drinking capabilities. I thought they 
did fairly well without any help!" 


80 


SOUTH TWENTY-THIRD AND K 

By R. G. Doubleday 

In Tacoma's earlier years the streetcar, our 
connection with the rest of the civilized world, 
more or less dictated by the lay of its tracks 
where the domestic and business life of the city 
would develop. Most of our journeys away from 
home were made on foot or, if we had the ten-cent 
fare, on the streetcar which came bucketing down 
K Street and met up with a ninety-degree turn to 
the west at South Twenty-Third. Perhaps for this 
reason, there accumulated at this intersection, an 
assortment of small enterprises catering to the 
wants of the neighborhood. 

The Twenty-Third and K business district in 1924 
included: Hartman's Drug Store, the Empire Meat 
Market, Burns' Motor Company, Freelin's Shoe Re- 
pair, Schaupps Brothers Grocery, McLean Brothers 
Grocery, Ellinger's Barber Shop, Freeman's Bakery 
and the offices of T. H. Long, M.D. It wasn't 
every neighborhood that could boast the presence 
of a practicing physician so this gave the district 
a classier standing than many others. 

Like some families in the area, we owned an auto- 
mobile of sorts, a Model T Ford, vintage 1919. This 
capricious vehicle was operated only for special 
purposes: going to church, visiting, hauling hea- 
vy or bulky objects and for picnicking at Point De- 
fiance Park in the summer. 

I was going to say that we had no refrigeration 
in our home but that would not be entirely true. 
There was an apple box, draped with a gunny sack, 
nailed to the north wall of the house within reach 
through the pantry window. On warm days, my mother 
attempted to keep the sack wet in order to gain 
some benefit from the principle of evaporative co- 
oling. It was not wholly successful. 


81 


Since most families shared our lack of refrig- 
eration and easy transportation, it was customary 
to make frequent walking trips to the grocery 
store. This explains why, in 1924, there were 
seventeen small groceries on K Street between 
South 11th and South 23rd, strung out like beads 
on a string. Some of them were ethnic in charac- 
ter, catering to the "Little Italy" neighborhood 
near 11th Street and others to the large Scandi- 
navian and German populations. 

Schaupps Brothers Grocery was in a two-story 
building on the southeast corner of the 23rd and 
K intersection, with living quarters on the second 
floor for the Herren Schaupps and families. It 
was a no-nonsense sort of establishment with a 
counter where you placed your order, shelves of 
canned goods, barrels of staples and jars ofpick- 
les, saurkraut and other condiments. The air 
was redolent with the aroma of coffee freshly 
ground in the great, red machine which sat at the 
end of the counter. Schaupps provided delivery 
service and had a large credit business. My aunt 
Serena tells me that grandfather Meyer would take 
her to Schaupps on Saturday evening when he would 
pay the weekly bill and she would be rewarded 
with a stick of candy, courtesy of the Schaupps. 

I suspect that my mother or father did little 
shopping at Schaupps since my father was a profi- 
cient gardener, my mother was a frugal and prac- 
tical housewife, and we had a hen house filled 
with contented and well-nurtured fowl who kept us 
well supplied with eggs. Also, my father, who 
was often downtown, would bring home fresh fish 
and other delights from the Market Street shops. 
Perhaps I may be forgiven for not having a more 
detailed memory of Schaupps; small boys are not 
much interested in the innards of grocery stores. 

My favorite establishment was Hartman's Drug 
Store. It had a great, marble-topped soda foun- 
tain with an impressive array of nickle-plated 
handles ready to dispense a variety of tasty 


82 


delights. For five cents I could buy a flagon of 
sparkling, ice-cold and foaming root beer and my 
pal and I, after taking aboard one of these tank- 
ards, would totter home blissfully on a hot sum- 
mer day. 

I remember when the first radio to my knowledge, 
in our part of town, was proudly turned on in 
Hartman's and of an evening the neighborhood men, 
after putting in their day in the sawmills and on 
the railroad, would gather in rapture around the 
loudspeaker to follow the progress of a prizefight 
that was going on at that very moment in some dis- 
tant place. 

And on a cold winter day, with snow blowing in 
your face, it was comforting to duck into Hartman's 
for a few cozy minutes before boarding the chilly 
streetcar, followed by the yet colder cable car, 
for the trip downtown. 

By 1928 the little business community had grown 
in all directions and the Tacoma City Directory 
lists the addition of: Mulvey's Confectionery, 
Almquist's Watch Repair, Sturley's Hardware, the 
Twenty-Third Street (Piper's) Market, Lens Ander- 
son's Art Store, Hurl but 's Cigar Store, Clinton's 
Grocery, Brackett's Dry Cleaning, the new Piggly 
Wiggly Chain Store and the offices of E.H. Hollis- 
ter, dentist. We boys had little truck with most 
of these, but we were enthralled, watching a man 
sitting in the window of the tobacco store and 
turning out hand-made cigars. He rolled the tobac- 
co leaves between his palm and a wooden-topped ta- 
ble, laced the leaves well with his own saliva to 
bind them together, then clipped off the straggly 
ends to turn out a product which was apparently 
pleasing to the eye, hand and taste of the cigar- 
smoker. 

I made an abortive excursion into the field of 
crime in the new 23rd Street Market. On a dare, a 
few of us boys had agreed to visit the new store 


83 


and "swipe" something from its shelves. Cruising 
through the aisles and bearing a great burden of 
fear and guilt, in desperation t grabbed the first 
object at hand, stuffed it into my pants pocket 
and made my escape. When the gang reassembled in 
our rendezvous site and I opened by sweaty palm to 
disclose my prize, a Brillo pad, I was greeted 
with such scorn and derision that I was convinced 
that I was just not competent to lead the life of 
a thief. So I gave it up. 

The City Directory indicates that most of the 
owners lived within sight or walking distance of 
their businesses. The Pipers were down the street 
from their grocery; Schaupps, as I mentioned, lived 
over their store; Freemans were neighbors of the 
Pipers; Mr. Ellinger's barber shop was on K Street 
and he lived on J, about a block away. Dr. Long 
was a half-block from his office. 

The breakup of the 23rd and K business district 
probably began when the first chain store opened 
its doors in about 1927. The Piggly Wiggly store 
was modest by comparison with its present day 
counterparts and its advent was violently opposed 
by the proprietors of the independent stores, to 
the extent of enjoining the legislature to enact 
laws forbidding the proliferation of chain stores 
in the State. Fortunately, such measures were 
doomed and the rest of the story we all know. The 
Twenty-Third and K business district, like most 
others of its sort, is now a shadow of its once 
busy and thriving self. 


84 


PENALTY FOR CASH 

By Eunice Huffman 


As I grew up in the 20' s and 30 1 s the focal 
point of any neighborhood was in the family gro- 
cery store; such a store was at 3644 McKinley Ave- 
nue, one block from our home. In 1925 it was 
owned by Fred H. Schewe who had previously been a 
clerk at the pavilion at Point Defiance. The 
store had an apartment above, which Schewe shared 
with his sister and her family, the Cooks. Emi- 
lene Cook, one of the children, was in my age 
group and was one of my playmates. 

Once when we were sewing doll clothes I noticed 
that Emilene had many spools of different colored 
threads. When I went home I managed to get some 
of her spools in my basket because I figured she 
could take thread any time she wanted from the 
store. My Mother noticed the strange spools and 
queried me about them. At first I told her that 
Emilene had given them to me but Mother did not 
believe that so I was instructed to return the 
thread to Emilene's mother with the explanation 
that I had stolen them. This caused me much embar- 
rassment and was a lasting lesson. 

Schewe' s store carried a great variety of goods; 
fresh vegetables and fruit, canned goods, staples, 
dry goods and some meats. Mr. Schewe was always 
willing to special-order any meat his customers 
wanted. The candy counter was a main attraction 
and it took considerable time to make my choices 
of the penny candy when I had a few pennies or a 
nickel to spend. 

A great many customers had credit at the store. 
The records were kept in each customer's salesbook. 
The books were filed in a huge drawer under the 
counter. When a customer made a purchase the items 
were recorded on a sheet in his own book in dupli- 
cate and he received a copy. The family of my girl 


85 


M H f\U r^L 

friend, Betty Schaad, had credit at the store be- 
cause her father worked for the Chicago, Milwaukee 
Railroad and in depression times he was paid by a 
voucher system. The vouchers were only negotiable 
when the railroad notified the employees that they 
could cash them. So to enable the Schaads to eat, 
they were allowed to charge them atSchewe's store. 
Whenever Mrs. Schaad paid her grocery bill Betty 
would receive a free bag of candy. My folks never 
ran credit but paid cash for anything purchased at 
Schewe s.. I pleaded with Mother to charge at 
Schewe s so I would get a bag of candy but to no 
avail. Mother usually shopped at the chain store, 
Piggly Wiggly, further down the Avenue, as the 
prices were cheaper. 

In 1931 Schewe' s changed hands and was purchased 
by Arthur and May Weydt. The store operation con- 
tinued much the same but the personalities were 
different. May was very stern and a bit frighten- 
ing and Art was rather an exhibitionist. Art did 
a bit of drinking and always had alcohol available 
for "medicinal purposes." Betty Schaad said that 
even though her mother was a strong prohibitionist, 
she was given a bit of liquor for a serious illness. 

For 34 years the Weydts owned the store which 
they enlarged and upgraded. Art died during their 
ownership but May continued to run the store until 
1965, when the operation ceased and the building 
was converted to apartments, a barber shop and a 
laundromat. 


86 


ALONG SIXTH AVENUE 
FROM STEELE STREET TO PINE 

By Wilma Snyder 

My first sense of "neighborhood" came when I 
was old enough to leave the confines of our back 
yard and play with the other "kids" on our block, 
which included both sides of South Steele Street 
from 8th to 10th. 

There were ten boys and five girls in that area, 
all fairly close in age. The boys didn't ask the 
qirls to play Cowboys and Indians or baseball, 
and we didn't invite the boys to play in the play- 
house our father had built in our backyard. The 
only time the two sexes played together was during 
the long summer evenings when we were allowed to 
stay out until the street lights went on. We play- 
ed "Washington Poke" and "Kick-the-Can," both of 
which involved running from base and hiding. As 
the players grew toward junior high school age, 
they began hiding in pairs. Sometimes the cou- 
ples didn't return, and that would break up the 
game. 

I knew the fathers and mothers of my playmates 
and the adults of the neighborhood got acquainted 
with each other through their children. But the 
adults did not have any joint neighborhood func- 
tions. When my son was growing up, we lived in a 
neighborhood on North 35th Street which had sum- 
mer potlucks, breakfasts at Point Defiance, camp- 
outs on the Deschutes River, impromptu foursomes 
at Bridge, and innumerable morning coffee klatches. 
Nothing like that happened in the neighborhood 
where I grew up. 

It was a middle-class neighborhood, with fathers 
employed in both white-and blue-collar jobs. I 
didn't know very much about the occupations of 
those men until recently when I looked them up in 
the City Directory. We had a furniture worker, a 
city fireman, a Ford salesman, a railroad clerk. 


87 


an abstractor at a title company, a radio repair- 
man, a photographer, an advertising manager in a 
department store, an owner of a dance studio and 
an owner of a broom factory. He gave us girls 
bits of brightly colored velveteen which were 
used as trim on broom handles. We used these 
when we made doll clothes for 10<t celluloid dolls 
purchased at Foultz's Variety Store. 

When we were old enough to go on errands on Six- 
th Avenue, it usually was to places which our mo- 
ther patronized. Rowell's Grocery on the north- 
east corner of Sixth and Prospect was where most 
of our food stuffs were purchased. Usually my 
mother would call in her order in the morning and 
it was delivered in a Model T delivery truck be- 
fore noon. The delivery boy would carry the gro- 
ceries around to the back door and my mother was 
spared lengthy sessions of shopping in supermar- 
kets where they seem to judge the quality of mer- 
chandise by the number of steps one has to take 
in order to do the weekly grocery shopping. 

When we paid our monthly bill at Rowell ' s, which 
my father generally did on Saturday, my sister 
and I would go with him. Daddy would get a cigar, 
my sister and I got a twisted candy stick which we 
selected from an assortment stored in glass jars, 
and the whole family got a pound box of chocolates. 
The store had a mixture of smells: peanut butter, 
cheese, ripe bananas. We got weighed on Mr. Row- 
ell's scales in his back storeroom on those week- 
ly trips. Sacks of potatoes in burlap bags and 
flour in muslin sacks, were stored there. It was 
fun to stand on the wooden floor of the scale in 
that earhy-smelling room and watch Mr. Rowell add 
the necessary weights until the arm balanced. 

One time when the Rowell's delivery boy was in 
our kitchen chatting with my mother, my sister 
crawled into the back of the delivery truck and 
had a short ride to the next stop. She was re- 
turned home as soon as she was found, but not 


88 


before my mother had discovered her loss and was 
scolding me for letting my sister disappear. I 
was on the front sidewalk when the grocery boy re- 
turned with Florence. I was delighted to see her 
and went running to the truck. My mother did 
what most parents do when they are relieved to 
find a missing child: administered a spanking. 

Only in her anxiety, Mother grabbed for a child 
without looking too closely to see which twin she 
had, and I was snatched up and being spanked be- 
fore I knew what was happening. I kept saying: 
"But, Mama, but Mamma!" She must have thought it 
was Florence protesting the punishment. When the 
grocery boy and Florence came into the house, and 
my mother had cooled down, it must have seemed 
anti-climactic because Florence never did get 
spanked. It was a family joke for a long time. 

If Mother wanted something from a bakery, my sis- 
ter and I would go to the Danish Bakery on the 
northwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Steele Street. 
What wickedly tantalizing odors came from that 
shop! Pastry and pineapple, marzipan and maple, 
apple twists and tarts, cookies and cakes, bread 
and buns; all of which tasted better to me than 
home-baked goodies. If I ever had a nickel to 
spend I usually spent it there on a chocolate eclair. 
That is, until I discovered hamburgers. There was 
a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant on the south 
side of Sixth Avenue on the alley between Oakes 
and Anderson. Hamburgers there cost just a nickel. 
Of course, the buns weren't as large as they are 
today, but the meat had no additives. They browned 
the buns on the grill and they were served with on- 
ly mustard and pickle. I still prefer hamburgers 
without all the extra goop. 

Stroud's Market, which was on the north side of 
Sixth Avenue between Anderson and Pine, provided 
us with fresh meat. Mr. Stroud wore a white coat 
with a white apron over it. He had to change his 
apron more often than his coat. The floor behind 
the counter was covered with sawdust, and the meat 


89 


was displayed in glass cases. If you didn't see 
what you wanted, Mr. Stroud would go into the 
back room and come back with a quarter of beef or 
pork or lamb over his shoulder and make a cut of 
the customer's choice. He had a large wooden 
block for cutting the meat, and a saw and a clea- 
ver were his main instruments. He always gave 
kids a wienie (we never called them hot dogs then) 
when a purchase was made. One time when I was 
telling my son about our neighborhood, I told him 
about the butcher giving kids a wienie. My son, 
who had grown up viewing meat pre-packed in see- 
through packages at the supermarket, seemed puz- 
zled by the story. "What's a butcher?" he asked 
me. To add to his confusion, I told him about 
visiting on farms in Kansas where farmers did 
their own butchering. When he wanted the story 
repeated, he would ask with the usual childish 
query, "Will you tell me about the olden days?" 

Jonas Hardware Store, across Prospect Street 
from Rowell's Grocery, was frequented by my father 
when he needed material for household chores. It 
had an oiled wood floor and smelled just like the 
halls of Bryant Elementary School. Nails of all 
sizes were stored in kegs, and counters were di- 
vided into sections for small merchandise. A cus- 
tomer could count out the number of some particu- 
lar item wanted — no packages wrapped in indestruc- 
tible covering which can hardly be opened without 
a knife or a sturdy pair of scissors! Furthermore, 
you didn't have to buy three batteries if you only 
wanted one. 

My mother did a lot of sewing for the family and 
dressmaking for others, and the majority of her 
sewing supplies were purchased at Grumbling's Dry 
Goods Store, between Fife and Oakes on the south 
side of Sixth Avenue. The Masonic Lodge had the 
upper two floors. Hosiery, underwear, yardage, 
thread, pins, needles and some ready-to-wear cloth- 
ing were adequate to meet most of our needs. When 
Mother wanted some special material for Easter 


90 


outfits or dresses when my sister and I were flow- 
er girls in weddings, she would shop downtown at 
Rhodes Department Store, but other than special- 
ties, Grumbling's carried a sufficient supply. I 
had my first Saturday job there at Christmas time 
when I was in high school. Packages for gifts 
were always wrapped in white tissue paper and tied 
with red ribbon which could be curled with the ed- 
ge of a pair of scissors. I got to do a lot of 
wrapping. Ladies' stockings came in flat boxes 
with the size and color marked on the ends; I liked 
to keep them in such good order that I could imme- 
diately find what a customer requested. 

Farley's Florist was located across Sixth Avenue 
from Grumbling's. Our family didn't buy many flow- 
ers--probably only for funerals. However, I became 
well enough acquainted with the Farley's that I was 
brave enough to ask them for another Christmas time 
job. This time I wrapped poinsettias in shiny red 
foil and fastened big red bows on each pot. 

We bought little in the way of prescription drugs 
when I was young, but every household had a stock 
of Vicks' Vapo-Rub, Milk of Magnesia, aspirin, rub- 
bing alcohol, iodine, adhesive tape and gauze (no 
band-Aids). The Sun Drug on the northeast corner 
of Sixth Avenue and Anderson was frequented by many 
people in our area. The store continued operating 
under three generations of the Diamond Family until 
the 1980' s. 

The Eastman Kodak Company gave every child who 
was twelve in 1930, a free Brownie camera to cele- 
brate one of the company anniversaries. I still 
have a picture of my sister and one of me taken at 
that time. Sun Drug was a distributor for Eastman. 
This gift was the beginning of my interest in photo- 
graphy. 

When we reached junior high school age, we were 
allowed to walk on Sixth Avenue from Steele to Pine 
Street and back again. Our strolls must have started 


91 


when the nightly hide-and-go-seek games no longer 
held our interest. I don't recall any happy meet- 
ings with any interesting boys while on our strol Is 
— it was just nice to be out in the warm summer 
air and on our own. Even though it was a familiar 
neighborhood by day, the evening promenades had an 
aura of romance about them. 

Saturday afternoon matinees at the Sunset Thea- 
ter on the southwest corner of Sixth and Prospect 
were another escape from home. Suspenseful serials 
ran each week. My sister had her first date with 
Peter Drummond to go to the Saturday show, but my 
mother wouldn't let her go unless I went too. De- 
termined Peter got Billy Frazier to ask me to go, 
in order that he have his date with Florence. 

Billy, whom I thought of as a brother, kindly ob- 
liged Peter by agreeing to go. Years later, the 
thought occurred to me: "I wonder if Peter gave 
Billy the dime to pay my admittance." If he did, 
it was resourceful of Peter, and it was kind of 
Billy to take me without any protest. Later yet, 
my mother told us, she too, went to the show, sit- 
ting several rows behind us. 

It wasn't until I was in high school that I got 
taken to Burpee's an ice cream parlor and restau- 
rant on the northwest corner at Sixth and Pine. 
Florence and I were both going with boys who were 
family friends. I had been fond of my date since 
I had been quite young, but it took a bit of time 
before I grew up to his standards, I guess. I was 
quite impressed when he asked me to go to a show 
soon after school started in 1935 and we went to- 
gether more or less steadily for almost a year. He 
had been in a CCC camp and had found a job at a news 
agency. He helped with family finances and didn't 
have much money for dates; so going to Burpee's was 
quite a treat. One night, when we were ready to 
leave, my date put a napkin over a glass of water 
and quickly turned it upside down on the table. We 
paid our bill and left. I could just imagine how 
the unsuspecting waitress was going to feel when 


92 


she picked up that glass! Even though I wasn't 
directly involved, I fel t a 1 i ttle dare-devi 1 i sh. 
That was probably pretty mild compared to what 
other girls might have considered dare-devilish! 



Looking east on Sixth Avenue at the intersection 
of 6th and Oakes. Courtesy of Washington State 
Historical Society. 


93 


LITTLE RUSSIA 

By Phyllis Kaiser and Wilma Snyder 
(From an Interview) 

The corner of South 23rd and Cushman was known 
as "Little Russia," according to Dale Wirsing in 
his book, Builders, Brewers and Burghers . This 
nomenclature applied roughly to an area from Spra- 
gue to K Street and from South 19th to 23rd. Dor- 
othy Klein, Esther Hamre and Helen Schwartz are 
three women who chose to remain in an environment 
originally selected by their parents in the early 
1900's. 

The parents of the women were known as Russian or 
Volga Germans and had immigrated from the villages 
of Frank, Kolb and Hussenback, settlements in the 
Volga area. These villages had been settled by im- 
migrants from Germany under a program proposed by 
Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia. In the 
1760' s, Catherine offered free transportation to 
Germans to settle on land grants near the Volga Ri- 
ver. Sons also received additional grants, but wo- 
men did not share the same inheritance. Catherine's 
generosity was two-fold; first, to develop agricul- 
tural resources and second, to populate an area 
which had been threatened by marauding tribes since 
the fall of the Mongolian Empire. 

Seed-wheat for planting was to be supplied for 
the first crop, land was tax-exempt from ten to 
thirty years, and interest-free loans were available 
for the purchase of equipment. The Germans' rights 
included religious liberty, though they were forbid- 
den to spread their faith to the Russians. They 
were to be exempt from military service and had con- 
trol over their local government and schools. How- 
ever, ministers had a unique position of "supreme 
authority." The Germans continued to speak their 
own language, and as there was 1 ittle inter-marriage 
cultural standards remained constant. 


94 


To increase family finances, it was often the 
custom for men to have a trade to follow during 
the winter months when farming tasks were fewer. 
Blacksmi thing, shoe repairing, weaving of linen 
or wool and tailoring, were some of the practiced 
trades. Each householder was allowed to cut a des- 
ignated number of marked trees for firewood and 
trees were replanted in order to have a constant 
supply. 

By the late 1800 's promised freedoms were being 
taken away. In January, 1874, Czar Alexander is- 
sued an ordinance of compulsory military service 
for the same year. Young men had to serve in the 
army for a period of six years; first-born sons 
were exempt. The Revolution of 1917 accelerated 
efforts to "Russianize" the Germans and the out- 
break of World War I caused further troubles. Ger- 
mans whose ancestors had lived in Russia for as 
many as five generations began emigrating, princi- 
pally to America. 

To facilitate emigration procedures, the parish 
church provided records of birth, baptism, confir- 
mation, date of last communion, and the names of 
parents and grandparents. The records were taken 
to a government office where visas were issued. 

Some emigrants had money for railroad fares to 
Bremerhaven or Hamburg, the two ports of embarka- 
tion. Others started out on foot and worked on 
farms in exchange for lodging and food on their way 
to port cities. If the travelers did not have e- 
nough money for passage, it was possible to obtain 
a sponsor who paid the fare. Sponsors might be 
individual persons or companies. The railroads got 
many workers this way. In fact, railway agents 
were in Germany to recruit workers. Settlers tend- 
ed to gravitate toward states which were engaged in 
wheat production. In Washington, Odessa and Ritz- 
ville were stopping places for some, but others 
seeking different employment, traveled farther west 
and some came to Tacoma. 


95 


Helen Schwartz's father, George Jacob, came to 
America in 1906 and her mother, Christina Eliza- 
beth Wuerttemberger, in 1912. They were married 
in Tacoma on July 19, 1914, in a relative's home. 

In 1919, they purchased their first home, at 1920 
South Cushman. Helen now resides at 2347 South 
Ainsworth, a house which her parents had purchased 
in 1936. Jacob was employed for a number of years 
by the Northwest Woodenware Company, located at 
21st and Dock Street. The company manufactured 
barrels and buckets. Such a business was known as 
a cooperage. 

Jacob had lived a colorful life in Russia. He 
served his compulsory military service in the cav- 
alry, which was by decree rather than choice. He 
continued his military service during the Russo- 
Japanese War (1904-1905) acting in a liaison posi- 
tion with Russian officers, as he was proficient 
in languages. While in the military service, one 
of his duties was to keep track of provisions and 
if a little liquid got left in a bottle, it wasn't 
wasted. (His position may have been similar to 
that of an American supply sergeant.) 

Esther Hamre's mother, Katherine Margaret Wal ker, 
came to the United States with three brothers in 
1906, and her father, John George Betz, came in 
1910. They were married in Ritzville, Washington, 
in the fall of 1914 and came to Tacoma the same 
year. John Betz worked at the Tacoma Smel ter unti 1 
his death in 1918, in his early 40 ' s . 

Katherine raised her children, Esther and George, 
by doing housework. Ten years after her husband's 
death, she was able to purchase a home at 1930 So. 
Cushman. Today, Esther and her husband, Ben Hamre, 
now live at 2502 South Ainsworth. 

Dorothy Klein's father, Frederick Bastron, came 
to the United States in 1909. Her mother, Kathar- 
ina Eckhardt, was brought here as a baby in 1893. 
They migrated to Ritzville where they were married 


96 


on February 19, 1919 and four years later, came to 
Tacoma. Frederick worked at several places, among 
them Buffelen Lumber Company and American Pipe Com- 
pany. Within five years after coming to Tacoma, 
Dorothy's parents bought a home at 2514 South Ain- 
sworth. Dorothy and her husband, David, now reside 
at 2501 South Cushman, in a house which David had 
built for his parents who were also Volga Germans. 

Some immigrant families spoke only German at 
home, but others started learning English from 
earlier-arriving relatives. Children "picked up" 
English from older brothers and sisters who had 
started public school. 

Thinking it desirable to instruct young people 
in the German language. Peace Lutheran Church be- 
gan a parochial school in the church basement. 
Classes started the first week in September and 
continued until the 15th of June. Bernard Frazier 
was hired at the sum of $50 a month as teacher and 
he was helped in the afternoon by the pastor, 

George Koehler, who received the same salary for 
his teaching, plus ministerial duties. Fifty cents 
a month was charged for students whose parents were 
not active members of the church. A flooded base- 
ment in 1912 necessitated transfer of pupils to 
public schools. 

The three women who were interviewed had attend- 
ed Irving Elementary School, located at South 25th 
and Sprague, and they remember marching to the new- 
ly constructed Stanley School when Irving was con- 
demned as unsafe. That was in the mid-1920's; six- 
ty years later, Stanley was the condemned school. 

The church was an important part of German life. 
There were three churches in the immediate neigh- 
borhood: Peace Lutheran at 21st and Cushman, the 
Evangelical and Reformed Church at 23rd and Cush- 
man, and the German Congregational at 23rd and Alas- 
ka. Confirmation of youth usually occurred at about 


97 


age 15. Esther recalls that three Sundays were 
required for the process: the first for examin- 
ation, the second for confirmation, and on the 
third, the children received their first commun- 
ion. The German Baptist Church was located at 
South 20th and J Street next to the water tower. 

Its congregation was made up of Germans from Nov- 
ka and other villages of Southern Russia. 

Confirmation classes were conducted in German 
at Peace Lutheran Church until 1936, as were Sun- 
day morning services. Sunday evening services 
were held in English, and by 1937, the Rev. G.H. 
Kittel used English in Sunday School and Luther 
League. By 1955 the number of members attending 
the German services had dwindled to a handful and 
the next year they were discontinued altogether. 

With the change of language, people of other na- 
tionalities and backgrounds became members of the 
congregation. At the founding of the church in 
1909, only male communicants had voting privileges 
and it was 1957 before women were permitted to be 
elected to the church council. 

Secular life found its social outlet in gather- 
ings at peoples' homes. On New Year's Day chi 1 d- 
dren went calling on family friends with their par- 
ents and received a traditional gift of a nickel or 
a dime, while the adults drank toasts to the New 
Year. 

Saturday night parties included playing pinochle 
and drinking beer. Women might not have had equali- 
ty in church affairs but they were not denied a lit- 
tle alcoholic refreshment. The men-folks would go 
to a beer parlor on Center Street for buckets of 
beer. Babysitters were a thing of the future so the 
"kids" went along with their parents, were bedded 
down, and carried home when the party was over. 

The Sons of Herman was a lodge for German speaking 
people. The original members may have been Germans 
from Germany, but inter-marriage and a desire for 


98 


sociability enticed a more general membership. 

Early arriving immigrants helped later ones to 
purchase "American clothes," but the older gener- 
ation tended to cling to their familiar garments. 
Some women would have nothing to do with what they 
considered to be "new-fangled corsets." 

Large families, especially if a son was named 
for a father, had nick-names for their children. 

The Schwartz family, for instance, might call a 
blond member "White Schartz." Curley and Bud were 
other nicknames for obvious reasons. 

Shopping needs for "Little Russia" were supplied 
by local merchants. Jacko's and Karpack's were two 
competing grocers who had butcher shops in their 
stores. Kohen's was a grocery store at 21st andM, 
and Couch's Grocery was at 23rd and Wilkeson. There 
was a drugstore at 23rd and K operated at various 
times by Hartman, Cartier and Riser. Although Ger- 
man women were known for their good cooking, they 
patronized a local bakery at 23rd and Cushman. Dry- 
goods could be purchased at Hans Johnson's or Mey- 
er's, close to 11th and K. Daily delivery of gro- 
ceries was enjoyed, one grocer being so accommodat- 
ing as to go door-to-door to take orders. Peter- 
son's Feed Store at 9th and K furnished food for 
fowl . 

The iceman and the fishman with his horse-drawn 
wagon, were weekly callers. A card in the window 
was a request for the iceman to stop. The fishman 
announced his coming with a sound like a foghorn. 
Italians from "Little Italy," (South 11th to South 
19th) went door-to-door, selling vegetables and 
fruit. 

There were no welfare programs in "Little Russia. 1 
Neighbors helped each other in time of emergency. 
Families stretched their incomes by planting vege- 
table gardens, keeping chickens, and raising cows 
which were pastured on what is now Stanley School 
playfield. 


99 


Germans assimilated themselves into the Ameri- 
can way of life with more ease than some other 
nationalities. As one author put i t, they respect- 
ed authority, understood the value of education 
and were hard workers. 

World War II brought about an escalation of 
housing, bringing new residents to the South 23rd 
and Cushman area. Upward mobility and job oppor- 
tunities caused an exodus of some of those born in 
the area. The flavor of the community was lost -- 
except in memory and history! 


100 


LITTLE ITALY 


By Phyllis Kaiser and Wilma Snyder 
From an interview 

Nestled adjacent to the Russian-German enclave. 
Little Italy shared the same east-west borders; 
Sprague Avenue and K Streets; north and south it 
was bounded by 12th and 19th Streets. The purpose 
of immigration to this neighborhood, regardless of 
the generation, was perpetually the same; economic 
advancement. In Italy there were only two classes 
of people, the poor and the very rich. The Ital- 
ians, as well as other nationalities, looked for a 
chance to reach a middle-class status in America. 

The families of Mary Scornaienchi Guzzo, Amelia 
Manza Mazzuca, and Florence Cozza Reda can trace 
their families to the same province of Cosenza in 
Southern Italy. They lived in different villages, 
all within a "stone's throw" of each other. 

FLORENCE COZZA REDA 

Some time before 1900, during his early teens, my 
paternal grandfather, Gaetano Cozza, left Paterno 
in the province of Cosenza in Southern Italy, to 
come to America. He remained a few years and then 
returned to Italy and married Clementina LePiane 
from Pianecrati in the same province of Cosenza. 
They lived in Clementina's village where two chil- 
dren, John, my father, and Lewis were born. My 
grandfather wanted to return to America but Lewis 
was too young for the journey so was left in Italy 
with a "wet nurse." They stayed in Tacoma long e- 
nough for my father to receive about four years of 
schooling at Frankl in Elementary but returned again 
to Pianecrati where a son, Anthony, was born. My 
grandfather was a sheepherder before he came to A- 
merica the first time. 

A severe earthquake hit the area, which was fright- 
ening to the boys, and so it was off to America 


101 


again; this time to stay. Gaetano became a barber 
and had a shop at 1155 South D Street in 1910. My 
grandfather's brother, Guiseppe Cozza, started a 
poultry market at 1146 Market Street, which was a 
popular place for housewives to shop for many years. 

My father, John, finished his elementary educa- 
tion and then attended Bryant when they held high 
school classes there. He returned to Cosenza, It- 
aly to learn the jewelry trade. Back in Tacoma he 
worked for Solomon Cohen; the Cohen's lived across 
the street from Bryant School at 802 South Ains- 
worth. My father started a jewelry store about 
1918 at 1520 Pacific Avenue and later moved to 948 
Pacific, sharing the building with Bennet Typewri- 
ter Company. 

My father married Louise Scornaienchi , who had 
attended Lincoln Elementary School located at South 
17th, on the west side of K Street. My parents had 
a home built for their family on a lot at South 14th 
and Cushman. My brother Albert and I, were born 
there, delivered by Dr. James Keho. He had an of- 
fice at 1110% K Street, above where Samuel son Shoe 
Company was later located. 

My brother and I were among the few Italians in 
Bryant School at that time and we felt some racial 
discrimination. I didn't like being called a "Da- 
go" or a "Wop" so when I was asked what my nation- 
ality was, I replied, "Norwegian." When I went 
home and told the story my grandmother thought I 
should be proud of my Italian heritage. My Mother 
laughed and my father observed, "Florence, you look 
as much like a Norwegian as a Chinese." 

MARY SCORNAIENCHI GUZZO 

My father, Anthony, first came to Tacoma when he 
was just a young child. He attended Bryant School 
for awhile and remembered a time when the Italian 
and Chinese children were moved to another school. 
Although only eight or nine years old, he worked as 


102 


a water-boy for the Tacoma Railway and Power Com- 
pany. He returned to Italy in 1914 and remained 
until about 1920. While living in Italy he had a 
drayage business and a vineyard. He married Bar- 
bara Lavorato and they had three children; John, • 
Albert, and me. My mother, my brothers and I came 
to Tacoma on October 29, 1924. It was just two 
days before Halloween but I knew nothing about 
that celebration. A boy with a horrible mask at- 
tempted to frighten me and I let loose with a str- 
ing of Italian words which probably frightened him 
because he ran away. I reproached my father later 
for not warning me about Halloween. 

One more boy, George, was born after we came to 
Tacoma. We lived at South 13th and Sheridan for 
a short while and then my father purchased a home 
at South 17th and Trafton, which was outside the 
Italian community. He felt our family, especially 
my mother, would learn the English language faster 
in the new location. My father supported our fam- 
ily as a mechanic for the Northern Pacific Rail- 
road. I attended Lincoln Elementary School but 
transferred to Stanley when it was opened November 
28, 1925. I later went to Jason Lee, Stadium, and 
Beutel Business College at 937% Broadway, above 
Klopfenstein' s. 


AMELIA MANZA MAZZUCA 

My parents came from Figline in 1905 in the same 
province where Mary and Florence's families lived. 
My father, Gaetano, had fought in the I tal i o-Ethi - 
pian War. He married Theresa Greco and had two boys 
while they were still in Italy. Their first home, 
when coming to Tacoma, was at South 17th and Cush- 
man. His first job was as a laborer on the build- 
ing of the reservoir on South 19th, opposite the 
Stanley School playground. I would sometimes take 
lunch to him which my mother had tied up in a dish 
towel, then we would eat together. 

Later my father purchased some property at 1730 


103 


South Cushman and built a grocery store. He car- 
ried a special brand of spaghetti which came from 
Portland. Customers would come from all over town 
to buy the spaghetti in 10 or 15 pound boxes. He 
carried other Italian specialties which could only 
be found at Manza 1 s. 

He built a three-room house on the back of the 
lot for his family. I was born in that little 
house. Later he had a larger home built at 1728 
South Cushman where four more girls were born; the 
smaller house was then rented. When my father's 
two brothers immigrated from Italy they settled 
nearby and that area became known as the "Manza 
Block." 

I attended Lincoln Elementary School but later 
went to Visitation Academy which at that time, was 
located across the street from St. Joseph's Hospi- 
tal. During an early year at Lincoln Elementary, 
after the Christmas holiday, the teacher asked us 
to each tell what we received for Christmas. A 
girl sitting in front of me said, "A doll, a doll 
buggy, and lots of other toys." I was embarrassed 
because my family couldn't afford Christmas gifts 
at that time. When it was my turn I repeated the 
same gifts the girl in front of me mentioned, but 
Harry Umbriaco, a neighbor boy in my class, said, 
"Amelia, that's a big lie!" 

The Italian women provided good food for their 
families. Every household had a garden and fruit 
trees. Two or three lots were purchased for home 
sites in order to have a garden and to keep chick- 
ens and rabbits. Some families had pigs, goats 
and cows. It was an exciting day when the men would 
gather in someone's backyard to butcher a pig. 

Once a reluctant pig escaped his captors and there 
was a hairy chase through the neighborhood until 
it was caught. People in nearby neighborhoods were 
always glad to have door-to-door salesman offer 
fresh vegetables for sale from their gardens. 


104 


St. Rita's, built in 1924, was the parish church. 
The first three priests had last names beginning 
with "b." Father Bruno built the church; he was 
followed by Father Biagini and Father Buffaro. 
Father Sacco came about 1980. In the 1920' s ser- 
vices were mainly in Italian and i t was defini tely 
an ethnic church, but now the membership is mixed; 
some blacks as well as some Vietnamese attend. Flo- 
rence, Amelia and Mary were all married at St. Ri- 
ta's. 

Many of the Russian-Germans who lived nearby at- 
tended Peace Lutheran Church. The members of the 
German church were invited to St. Rita's for spe- 
cial services, and the St. Rita's pari sioners were 
invited to Peace Lutheran for evening services and 
refreshments served later. The two nationalities 
seemed to live peacefully together; their children 
attended the same schools. Two German women, Mrs. 
Augusta Starke! and Mrs. George Maesner, taught 
some of the Italian women about German baking. Flo- 
rence remembers Mrs. Starkel making a double batch 
of pie, cake or rolls which she shared with the 
Cozza family. In later years Mrs. Starkel was dri- 
ving her car down the 9th Street hill in downtown 
Tacoma when her brakes went out. Sounding her horn 
to alert traffic, she crashed into the bulkhead at 
Fireman's Park. She was fortunate to have survived 
and not injured anyone. 

When Florence, Amelia and Mary were interviewed, 
they told stories of their memories of funeral cus- 
toms. Black clothes and black bands on sleeves of 
garments were customs which lasted until approxi- 
mately 1930. Occasionally the casket might be brought 
to the home. Amelia remembered this happening for 
a young sister but it was not a common practice 
with Italian families. However, the funeral cortege 
would drive past the home of the deceased on the 
way to the cemetery. When the fami ly returned home 
from the cemetery many friends would stop by to of- 
fer condolences. It was a trying time for the fam- 
ily. 


105 


There was more than one lodge which Italians 
could attend; The Sons of Italy and the Progres- 
sive Italian Club, which met at the Normana (Scan- 
dinavian) Hall, and the Columbus Lodge, which met 
in South Tacoma. The southend lodge had members 
mainly from Northern Italy. The Sons of Italy had 
a ladies auxiliary which helped with dances, din- 
ners and picnics for the Italian community. 

Ferry Park was a good place to bring young peo- 
ple together. It was located at South 14th street 
between Cushman and Sheridan. There were swings, 
a wading pool, teeter-totters, horse shoe pits, and 
a volley ball court. Bill Lemmon was hired by the 
park district as a director in the summer time. If 
someone misbehaved the director of the playground 
disciplined the child regardless of who he was, and 
the child could be banned from the playground fora 
week or the whole summer. Ferry Park was the first 
park in Tacoma on land donated by a Tacoma citizen, 
C.P. Ferry. The statues of the lions on the Sixth 
Avenue side of Wright's Park and the "draped" mai- 
dens on the Division Street side were originally 
in Ferry Park. After World War II, when the park 
department could no longer afford summer directors, 
conditions deteriorated, the facilities were van- 
dalized, and the park was dismantled. 

The Tacoma Community House at 1311 South M Street 
provided services for children and adults to learn 
English. At times it was a child care center and 
it offered citizenship classes. Boy and Girl Scout 
Troops met there and it was a sponsor for a Queen 
Esther Club. It was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Fred- 
erick Thompson who worked under the sponsorship of 
the National Home Missionary Society of the Metho- 
dist Church. All nationalities gathered there for 
lunches and dinners, sharing traditional dishes 
from native lands. The sharing of food brought peo- 
ple closer together in their common effort to be- 
come Americans. 


106 


K Street merchants, 1940's. Courtesy of The Tacoma 
News Tribune. 



K Street as it appeared in the 1940s 


K-Street Boosters plan party 

Group to honor old-time district merchants 


By BETTY ANDERSON 


A banquet to recognize former businessmen 
and women in the K Street District will be held 
at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Bavarian Restau- 
rant, 204 N. K St. 

Special recognition will be given to Joe 
Hawthorne, longtime banker at Puget Sound Na- 
tional Bank, and Charley Gage, former owner of 
the Value Store. 

The Old Timer’s banquet, sponsored by the K 
Street Boosters Club, will be a reunion of sorts 
for people who in years past have owned and 
operated businesses in the district. However, 
some of the businesses have changed and some 
buildings may have been demolished since they 
were there, according to Bob Luxa, new owner, 
of the Value Store who is serving as banquet 
coordinator. 

“K Street was the number one business center 


for years and years,” he said. “We want to get 
some of those old-timers back.” 

The shopping district has been in existence 
since 1905, according to early reports. Immi- 
grants from various backgrounds and their des- 
cendants set up businesses there and some are 
still in business. 

There is a mixture of German, Russian, Itali- 
an, Scandinavian, black and more recently, In- 
dochinese merchants in the district, extending 
from Sixth Avenue to South 23rd Street and from 
about South J Street to Sheridan Avenue. 

There are banks, insurance and real estate 
businesses and several hundred professional off- 
ices for doctors, dentists and attorneys. There 
are small restaurants with ethnic cuisine, drug 
stores, specialty shops, taverns, service stations, 
a bakery, cleaners, a furniture and appliance 
store and supermarket. 

Luxa said information about the banquet may 
be obtained by calling him at his store. 


107 





MEMORIES OF THE K STREET DISTRICT 

1935 to 1948 
By Katheren Armatas 

My dad Lascos and my Uncle Frank were business 
partners in the early 30 1 s and 40' s. The top of 
the 11th Street hill and South K Street seemed a 
good place to conduct their grocery business. 

First they had the northeast corner, where the 
First Interstate Bank is today, then they leased 
the site at 1101 So. K Street where Paulson's Ap- 
pliance now stands and by 1938 Sarantinos Brothers 
Bay State Market was well established. 

The old wooden building where they had their gro- 
cery store was flanked on the K Street side by 
Larsen's Pharmacy, later to become Meyer's Drug. 

On the 11th Street side, downhill, was Paulson's 
Jewelry. Further south on K Street was MacPher- 
son's Federal Bakery; Russell Johnson's Confec- 
tionary; the K Street Club, a beer and billiards 
parlor; Lighthouse Electric; K Street Theater and 
a K Street Ice Cream shop. Across the street from 
their grocery was the Totem building which first 
housed Hogan's Food, where Harold Meyer Drug is 
today. Next to Hogan's was Cable Fountain and 
Cigar Store -later Brown's Star Grill, Zarelli's 
Shoe Shine Parlor, Samuel son Shoes - later Ost- 
lund's, Craig and Son Hardware, Johnson's Dry 
Goods, Mac Marr's - later the K Street 10 Cent 
Store, Economy Drug, Crystal Palace Market Meats, 
and Takashima and Horiuchi Produce. P.S. Russell 
Johnson, 86 years old, the founder and patriarch 
of Johnson's Candy Company which now stands at 924 
So. K Street, still puts in work time at his shop 
and has been a supplier to candy lovers for 60 
years. 

Every day, including Sunday, my father would open 
the store, waiting for my uncle to arrive. He 
would then go downtown to conduct his ordering or 
banking. He would either walk or use the trolley, 
later the bus, since he never owned or drove a car. 


108 


He enjoyed being out with the public, a familiar 
figure in various banks, the courthouse. City 
Hall, the fish and meat markets, and grocery 
wholesalers. He would take the late afternoon and 
evening shifts at his store, closing at midnight 
on weekdays and at nine on Sundays. 

Besides canned and staple goods, their store 
featured fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, dairy 
products and flowers (especially during the holi- 
days). The main counter, where customers brought 
their selections, also served as cold storage for 
dairy products and perishables. Behind it was 
the drygoods bins of fruit and pastas. The candy 
counter, an enclosed glass section, had those won- 
derful one-cent candy bars and during Christmas 
boxes of chocolate-covered cremes (the pink ones 
were the best). I was great at sampling all, es- 
pecially the raisins by the handsful . 

Obviously I overdid it, for now I can barely 
tolerate them! Along the back wall, shelves held 
the staple items of canned goods, boxes of soaps, 
etc. Breads and cookies were arranged in a sec- 
tion next to the flowers. Next to the grocery 
section. Dad had his fish market counter. He of- 
fered all types of fresh seafood. That's where I 
learned to clean smelt and crab - by watching my 
father. His lutefisk and pickled herring (the 
best) drew Norwegians and Swedes; his smoked and 
kippered salmon drew the Jews and the snack lovers 
He bought fresh fish every day for he didn't 
waste any or want to smell up the locker while 
storing it. In this same area, across the aisle 
from the fish market, the meat market stood. It 
was privately handled by various butchers through 
the passing years, A1 Marucca and Vic Lichenberg, 
to mention two. 

They were great guys and worked harmoniously 
with my father and Uncle Frank. In the late even 
ing, if I wasn't sampling Dad's pickled herring 
and onions, I would sneak in the meat locker and 


109 


sample Vic's potato salad. His wife Venus made 
the best. Weiners, always available, hanging in 
ropes from the hooks, were a great side dish. 

Uncle Frank was a specialist in vegetable and 
fruit display and his floral arrangement artistry 
was very eye-appealing. He could talk anyone into 
purchasing a fresh bouquet along with their gro- 
ceries. He would stack fruit in straight rows, 
polish the apples for added gleam, and freshen the 
green vegetables with a water mist. The bunch of 
bananas hanging from the hook would be checked for 
over-ripeness as he whistled the tune, "Yes, We 
Have No Bananas." Of course, the over-ripe ones 
landed at my house. Since Mama never wasted any- 
thing, they were used in cake, bread, cereal and 
what-have-you. Guess who can barely tolerate these 
items now? 

Uncle Frank had a peeve with any patrolman (flat- 
foot) covering the K Street beat who came in and 
helped himself to an apple or banana without pay- 
ing for it. Once I saw him grab a cop's hand with 
an iron grip and make him drop the apple. The cop 
never again came in the store while Frank was there. 
Of course, at night Las cos, my Papa, was the soft 
touch; the cops on the beat would pop in freely. It 
was just as well; it gave him added protection. 

One Halloween night, I was up the block, soaping 
the five and ten's window s , when I felt a tapping on 
my shoulder. Fearfully I looked up into the patrol- 
man's stern face. His rough face cracked into a 
smile as he said, "Oh, Sarantino's kid. Go ahead, 
just don't use wax. " 

On September 20, 1985, at 1:42 am, a devastating 
fire gutted the Value Store at 1118 So. K Street. 
The hungry flames ate away all my childhood memor- 
ies of waxed windows, sweet- smell ing perfumes and 
delightful treasures that one could purchase fora 
nickel or a dime. Now there is just a gaping hole. 
It's ironic that the five and ten's address was one 


110 


block parallel to my old home, the green house at 
1118 So. J Street. It too, no longer is there. 

It was not unusual to see me around the K Street 
district during Papa's late hours; I practically 
lived there. After our supper, my mother would 
pack a basket with a hot meal for my late-working 
Papa, and I would walk with her through our back 
alley to the store. 

Our house's backyard and garage were separated 
from the back of the K Street Theater by this al- 
ley. Many of my lost balls bounced and careened 
off it's roof. Mama and I fearlessly headed to- 
wards 11th Street, continuing down the alley where 
we could hear music coming from the K Street Tav- 
ern. The reek of stale beer and smoke, after a 
Friday or Saturday night, was enough to make me 
sneeze. Farther down the alley the MacPherson 
Bakery loading dock was covered with a coating of 
white flour and the sweet fragrance of baking 
bread escaped through the open door. Peeking in- 
side, I could see the activity of white-aproned, 
red-faced bakers quickly pulling out the hot loaves 
from the oven. Walking around the corner and up 
11th, we passed the Bazaar Dress Shop's beautiful 
display in the lighted window. Paulson's Jewelry's 
sparkling diamond rings and flashy golden watches 
beckoned to me with their splendor. 

Approaching the side of the grocery store was a 
rickety wooden stairway leading to the second lev- 
el of the building. Often Otto, the wino, would be 
sleeping off his late evening in a drunken stupor. 

He lived like a squatter, upstairs. Poor Otto, may- 
be he mooched from Dad, the Tavern, K Street Grill, 
or the Federal Bakery to survive. Who knows? One 
day he disappeared and never was seen again. Louie 
Rousseau still makes a mean sandwich at his grill 
on K Street. 

After school classes, my two cousins, Serma and 
Pana Halkides, would come to help clerk at the store 


111 


and as my brother Angelo grew older, he too would 
help, but I was too young. That didn't stop Papa 
from teaching me to stock shelves, dust, help bag 
groceries and later use the cash register and make 
change. Once, on my own, I bravely sold a custo- 
mer a pound of butter. How delighted she must 
have been to get it for ten cents! My father told 
me afterwards, when he learned of my sale, that it 
was cubes of butter (one-quarter pound) that sold 
for ten cents each. That episode eliminated my 
novice clerkship very quickly; it was decided that 
I should stick to dusting shelves. 

Speaking of butter, it brings to mind the ration- 
ing and shortages during World War II and how they 
affected our grocery business. Our store had lim- 
ited supplies of canned goods, meat, coffee, but- 
ter and sugar. Bread was short because the oil 
used in its baking was rationed. I recall why the 
doughnuts my Uncle Louis Evans baked and which we 
sold, tasted so odd. I was informed many years 
later by my brother Ange, that Louis used mineral 
oil instead of lard to fry them. "Ugh!" (The 
Baker Boys' Bakery is still in existence at its 
original site at So. Wright Street in the Oakland 
district of Tacoma. Both my cousins, Ernie and 
Bill Evans, produced fine breads for wholesale and 
retail sales for many years.) Back to the butter 
story: Butter was very scarce and when Dad re- 
ceived his allotted amount, we would distribute 
it first to our best customers, then to the other 
shoppers, always a cube at a time and the required 
ration stamps collected. 

One day, a box full of one-pound slabs had to be 
cut into cubes and individually wrapped with wax 
paper. I was shown how, then asked to take it home 
to do it in privacy, away from the store. A fat 
lady, whom I had never seen before, peeked into 
the box as I was exiting out the door. With an 
infuriated look on her face, she loudly screeched, 
"Look at all the butter she has!" She then barged 
into the store, demanding some for herself. To 


112 


appease her. Papa told her to come back the next 
day. With a smirk on my face, I continued wal king 
home, thinking, "Of all the people, this lady ne- 
eds it the least." 

Many events evolved around that K Street grocery 
setting. One was when the refrigeration system 
broke. My Dad had to be carried out the stairwell 
where the machinery was; the heavy fumes of ammon- 
ia had overcome him when he went down to investi- 
gate. 

A damaging event occurred when the next door Mey- 
er Drug Store caught fire. Our grocery was smoke- 
damaged only but the butcher shop's wall was com- 
pletely scorched. Another time, we had a fright 
when Papa was hospitalized for bleeding ulcers; 
no small wonder that he had them, with all the 
pressures he had. It was touch and go at the hos- 
pital for awhile but with transfusions, followed 
by an operation, he licked the hovering white 
spectre, continued proof was his long life span. 
Papa was a born champion. 

How he respected champions, especially Jim Lon- 
dos, the Greek wrestler and boxer of the 30' s. 

Dad was a great baseball fan, especially during 
the World Series. His store radio would be on 
full blast, just as it was in all the other K St. 
shops. It was fun to hear him defending a certain 
team. The Tacoma Tigers, though, were his baby. 
Often he would go to Peck Field on 15th and Sprag- 
ue to support the local team. I'm sure he and 
Scotty Moore, the unofficial mayor of K Street, 
had a good rapport in this respect. 

Scotty had a temper and I remember the arguments 
he had with Peanuts, the K Street taxi driver, and 
he didn't particularly like kids (at least he nev- 
er smiled at me). But with his baseball cap for- 
ever on his head, he made an impressive figure. I 
heard he had mellowed with age. He died tragical- 
ly in an apartment fire. In December, 1981, the 


113 


Scotty Moore Memorial Park on South 9th and K was 
dedicated to him. Now it is called Peoples Park 
(to me this name lost its spunk). 

The K Street Grocery Store lease came to an end. 
The building owners had other plans. But so did 
Lascos. In 1948 he had his own store built. Sar- 
antinos' Bay State Market stood at 721 South I 
for many years. His American dream was realized. 

Papa died November 22, 1980. He was 95 years 
old. 


114 


THE KIDS 

By Mary Etta Doubleday 


I experienced some wondrous childhoodadventures: 
walking the railroad tracks of the Tacoma Eastern 
in the gulch three blocks down the hill from our 
house at 4642 McKinley Avenue; jumping across the 
creek alongside the tracks, falling in frequently, 
and poling about on a raft at the swamp over the 
hill. We took for granted the vacant lots where we 
climbed to the tops of tall fir trees or played 
scrub baseball with a proprietary air, not caring 
whose property it was. We also climbed to the tops 
of telephone poles on the spikes on each side of 
the pole with no thought of suing anyone if we fel 1 . 

We were always intrigued with the workings of the 
fire station at 38th and McKinley Avenue. The fire- 
men stationed there were of a jolly nature and in- 
vited us to climb the stairs and slide down the 
fire pole, an act that today would be strictly for- 
bidden with all the liability suits; so from a kid's 
point of view, things were much better then. 

One of my favorite places to play was at Mamie 
Betzler's home. Her father had converted a large 
old chicken house into a grand playhouse. There we 
spent endless hours cutting out paper dolls from 
the Pictorial Review, Delineator and McCall's maga- 
zines and served tea from dear little sets of dish- 
es. The Betzlers also had a beautiful old photo 
album with a colorful velvet cover which reposed on 
a round table with a green velvet tablecloth. And 
right next door lived their Grandma Kegg who had an 
outhouse (I'd never experienced one.) It was kept 
immaculately clean and freshly painted and smelled 
of lime rather than the usual. Right up the street 
lived "Boob" Glastetter, a playmate, who suffered 
from an overly-protective mother. Next door to him 
were the Carpenters, old friends of my parents from 
their days in Wisconsin. My parents and the 


115 


Carpenters raised cabbage and together made crocks 
of sauerkraut, the odor permeating both houses as 
it ripened. 

Tacoma, then as now, had good public transporta- 
tion. The streetcar stopped on our corner and one 
of the daring deeds of the neighborhood "sprouts" 
was to hide in the night shadows and shake the guy 
wire across the street so that the inbound street- 
car's trolley would disconnect as the car made the 
slight curve on 48th street. Of course, this ne- 
cessitated the motorman's leaving the car to go 
out in the dark and try to maneuver the trolley 
back on its wire, while we stood in the dark and 
laughed. 

Our family had a series of automobiles, among 
them a Buick touring car with isinglass side cur- 
tains. Then there was the brand new 1925 Essex; 

I was then 10 years old and my brother Kenneth, 
who was 10 years older than I, thought it a lark 
to teach me to drive. One day he sent me out a- 
lone in that proud chariot. When I was a few 
blocks from home I found it necessary to shift 
gears; nothing happened. The universal gear had 
fallen apart! So in near panic I left the car in 
the middle of the street and walked home and let 
Kenneth salvage the car. 


116 


NEVER A DULL MOMENT 

By Wesla MacArthur 


The Tacoma Police Department referred to our 
neighborhood as one end of the Cook/King Beat. 

Mrs. King lived roughly a mile away, but Ethel 
Cook lived nearby. Both women were unfortunately 
unusual. Mrs. King, for instance, was watering 
her lawn one lovely summer day while one of her 
neighbors was hosting a meeting. Guests had park- 
ed their cars in front of his and Mrs. King's 
homes. When a guest from the meeting came out to 
get into his new Volkswagon, he was a bit startled 
when he opened the car door to have gallons of wa- 
ter pour out! Mrs. King felt that her property 
line extended to the middle of the street. Park- 
ing at her curbing was, in her mind, trespassing. 
She honestly felt that anything she did to let car- 
owners know never to repeat that offense was quite 
justified. She had found that filling the offend- 
er's car with water worked quite well. 

Most of our neighbors were quite normal--in a 
manner of speaking. However, I'm not sure whether 
"normalcy" was achieved in coping with Ethel Cook 
or whether we were truly rational. You judge. 

In the corner house immediately next door to us 
lived two very blond sisters; one was taking a 
beauty course at a barber college. One weekend, 
having swallowed her customary dose of eight as- 
pirins at one time, she felt that she was relaxed 
enough to dye her own and her sister's hair. One 
came out blue and the other turned green. Such 
hair colors were not yet in fashion, so the girls 
wore bandanas for a couple of months until their 
hair grew out and the original color returned. 

Across the street from the sisters, on the south- 
west corner of the intersection, was a single-fam- 
ily house which had been turned into a duplex. The 


117 


upstairs apartment was occupied by a couple we had 
met at our church. The husband, Les Elliott, a 
salesman for a publishing company which catered to 
colleges, was away from home several days at a 
time. At one of those times the Elliott's young 
son. Tommy, quite innocently shocked a very elder- 
ly, sedate relative who came calling. The visitor 
asked Tommy what people he saw from the window. 
With the beautiful frankness of childhood, he re- 
plied, "Oh, lots. On Monday the milkman, on Tues- 
day the garbagemen, most days the mailman comes. 
But I like Fridays best, 'cause that's when my 
Daddy comes!" 

Next door to us on the south side of our home 
lived Art and Betty Doll and their two children, 
Donna and Jeff. They had two Scottie dogs named 
"Mac" and "Tosh." Art taught music in the city 
schools and often played in dance bands on week- 
ends. Betty had many artistic hobbies which al- 
ways turned out beautifully. 

Still moving south, the people next door to the 
Dolls were Ray Cook and his notorious wife, Ethel. 
Ray had worked for many years on the railroad, but 
by 1950 he was semi -retired. He was very hard of 
hearing which made it almost impossible for him to 
find out what had actually been done or said to 
irritate Ethel. If anybody walked on what Ethel 
considered her private sidewalk, she would rush 
out and turn the hose on the trespasser. 

Once when the Dolls' house was being profession- 
ally painted, Ethel went to her upstairs window, 
slit the ticking of a feather pillow, and shook 
all the feathers out the window toward the fresh 
paint. Fortunately, the wind blew most of the fea- 
thers back into Ethel's window! Usually when some- 
thing upset her, Mrs. Cook would call the police, 
the fire department or the humane society. This 
time it was the painters who called the police. 

One very hot summer night, while our youngest 


118 


child was trying to sleep and teethe at the same 
time, I heard Ethel screaming for help, shouting 
"Murderer! Murderer!" I called downstairs to my 
husband and he ran out to see what was the matter. 

In less than a minute, he came running back and 
dashed for the phone. He called the police and 
asked if they had heard from Ethel. The desk ser- 
geant said, "Yes, she's on another line saying 
something about a murder." Bill told the officer 
to relax. Art Doll had just come home from play- 
ing with his band at a dance. It was about mid- 
night, so Betty had left their back yard lights on 
so Art could see the path from the garage on the 
alley to the back door. He was walking around the 
yard, pouring salt on slugs. That was the murder! 

Obviously, poor Ethel had a problem. One good 
thing did come out of it all: every child on that 
block, and there were many of them, became acquaint- 
ed with the police and firemen. Once Ethel called 
the police to report that one of the high school 
boys across the street from her should be arrested 
for indecent exposure. The police came out and 
picked up Larry McKinnon, who was washing his car 
clad in shorts, but no shirt or shoes. The police 
drove him in their car around to the alley behind 
his house and told him to stay out of sight for 
about half an hour. Then they went over to talk 
with Ethel. She said nothing more when Larry came 
out later to finish washing his car. 

Before we moved from K Street, Ethel died quite 
dramatically. It was another lovely summer day. 
Everyone's windows were open to catch the slightest 
breeze. Ethel was playing gospel hymns on her pi- 
ano and singing. Every time she sang, Mac and Tosh 
playing in their fenced in back yard, would howl. 
She thought Art and Jeff Doll were mocking her. 

They were not even at home. Ethel called the po- 
lice. When they found out it was just the dogs 
howling, they went to Ethel's house to explain. She 
didn't believe them. She was using rather lurid 
language on the police and actually worked herself 
up to such a pitch that she had a stroke. By the 


119 


time a second police car, a motorcycle patrolman, 
a truck from the fire department, the yellow emer- 
gency ambulance, a private ambulance, and a TV pho- 
tographer arrived; someone was being brought out 
of the house on a stretcher. At first, we all 
thought Ray must be the patient, for we all knew 
he had heart problems. The man holding the oxygen 
mask blocked our view. However, when Ray came out 
of the house to follow the ambulance to the hospi- 
tal, we realized our mistake. Ethel was pronounced 
dead on arrival at the hospital. I phoned my hus- 
band at work to see if he could bring Ray home. 
Later Bill told me, "I've never seen anything so 
pathetic as Ray pacing that hospital waiting room. 
He kept saying over and over, 'They finally killed 
her, they finally killed her. I knew they would 
some day.'" Everyone in the nieghborhood was ter- 
ribly sorry for Ray. It was quite a while before 
he was willing to accept the report from the po- 
lice department indicating that the neighbors were 
not in any way responsible for his wife's death. 

A funny thing happened after Ethel's death. 

There was not a family on either side of that 
street who had not had at least one run-in with 
Ethel. However, after she died, the neighborhood 
seemed to fall apart. We'd already signed papers 
to purchase a new house, the Lundquists moved, the 
McKinnons moved, and the Dolls moved. The adhe- 
sive that had held us all together for so many 
years was gone -- Ethel Cook had died. 


120 


NEIGHBORHOOD ENTREPRENEURS 

By Mary Etta Doubleday 

Betzler's Grocery store just across the street, 
(48th and McKinley Ave.) was our source of. all 
food that didn't grow in our garden. My favorites, 
if my mother was not at home, were canned Franco 
American spaghetti (a concoction I would not now 
feed to an obnoxious dog) and "French pastry" 
which was a flaky creation with sugar sprinkled 
over the top. The peanut butter dispenser in the 
store intrigued me; it was a tall metal cylinder 
with a valve near the bottom which slowly disgorg- 
ed peanut butter in a manner that reminded me of a 
large animal defecating! Among the del i very trucks 
that brought supplies was Hoyt's doughnut wagon 
whose jolly driver, powder-sugar-dusted, would let 
us ride with him to 64th Street and back and always 
managed to find a broken doughnut or two for a 
treat. The enterprising "fish man" toured the 
neighborhood in his little black truck, holding a 
long horn which he blew frequently, reminiscent of 
a fog horn on the water from whence his produce 
came. 

There were other businesses a little farther a- 
way. Acme Florist, west on 50th Street near the 
railroad tracks, had a row of greenhouses and some 
nursery stock. The large heating plant that sup- 
plied the greenhouses with steam heat with much 
hissing and clanking was very impressive, but the 
beautiful odor of damp earth and blooming freesias 
and gardenias will linger forever in my memory. 
Zea's Grocery and Meat Market was between 49th and 
50th on McKinley Ave. Joe Cornish's service sta- 
tion was on 47th Street. Then there was a small 
grocery store between 38th and 39th that was open 
even on Sundays (unheard of then) and sold our 
favorite Walnetto suckers. Down in that same vi- 
cinity on 40th Street was Mac's Super Service, 
which must have repaired and serviced every car 
for miles around. 


121 


A nightly routine in those days, before radio 
and TV required so much of our time, was collect- 
ing our daily supply of milk. It came from De- 
Friest's cows and was stored in glass bottles. 

Emma and A1 DeFriest's place was east of McKinley 
on 50th Street. They had cows, chickens, turkeys 
and a marvelous machine -- a large grindstone 
with attached seat where you sat and pedaled. I 
was privileged to operate it on occasion, but it 
required walking through the turkey pen to reach 
it and I was terrified of all feathered things, 
so I pedaled infrequently. 

Adjoining the DeFriest's property was the Har- 
mon family's menage. Being a part of a two- kid 
family and living in a small house, I was fascin- 
ated with big families who lived in big houses on 
big lots. One Harmon girl was named Nomrah (Har- 
mon spelled backwards). Their house seemed huge 
to me with many bedrooms and a sleeping porch up- 
stairs. They had an orchard, outbuildings and a 
cider press with its delicious output. The two 
Harmon boys knew more outdoor group games than I 
had ever heard of. Ed and Howard seemed to be the 
recreation chairmen for every occasion. They led 
three-legged races and baseball games at Sunday 
School picnics and led the "Simon Says" and 
"Prince of Paris Lost his Hat" at church socials. 
They also accompanied groups on swimming outings 
at the Nereides, the large indoor heated salt wa- 
ter swimming pool at Pt. Defiance Park. 


122 


This picture goes with the 
story on the following page. 



Vunan and Yet Sue Ling with daughters, Jing Chu 
and Jing Ho, and son. Shun Lein, in front of bus- 
iness and residence at 1312 South Market Street, 
1928. Courtesy of the author. 


123 


THE STREET WHERE I LIVED 

By Jing Chuan Ling 

It was a certified letter from the City of Tacoma 
dated January 17, 1986 that brought me back to Mar- 
ket Street, to the street where I grew up. It con- 
tained a notice that required every property owner 
to maintain his property free from vegetation and 
litter as defined in Section 8.31.010 of the Of- 
ficial Code of the City of Tacoma. 

As I drove down to check on the property at 1532 
Market Street, my thoughts went back to the days of 
my youth in the Market Street neighborhood down- 
town. When I was born, my parents, three brothers 
and two sisters lived at 1312 Market Street. My 
dad's N. Lan Chinese Medicine Company office was in 
the front area and our living quarters were in the 
rear. The Dewey Hotel was above us and its lobby 
was just north of us. Through the large hotel win- 
dows, men could be seen sitting in leather seats 
smoking their cigars and cigarettes, reading news- 
papers or talking. I do not recall seeing any wo- 
men idling their time away in the lobby. 

By the time I was three years old, the family had 
moved to 1556 Market Street. Three more brothers 
and a sister were added to the family here. We 
lived at this address for fourteen years. My fa- 
ther, Yunan Ling, an herb doctor and an importer of 
Chinese curios, had his office and display window 
on the south and front side. The rest of the area 
was partitioned off with panels to accommodate a 
dining-1 iving area, a kitchen, a bathroom, a large 
bedroom, a small closet, a storage room and an at- 
tic. Above us was the Columbus Hotel which had 
several floors. Next door, to the north, was the 
Tacoma Jujitsu School. Jujitsu is a Japanese of- 
fensive and defensive show of strength without wea- 
pons. In the evenings, my brothers and I would 
take turns peeking through the keyhole to observe 
the activity of young men tossing and si ammi ng thei r 


124 


bodies onto mats laid out on the floor. 

To my knowledge, we were the only Chinese family 
on Market Street. Several Japanese families had 
living quarters in the rear or above their places 
of business. The Tofu Company Food Products was 
at 1546 Market Street, the Pacific Hand Laundry 
was at 1356 Market Street, and a grocery store was 
at 1354 Market Street. It seemed that these busi- 
nesses just disappeared overnight along with all 
my Japanese playmates. I was too young at the time 
to understand or question the sudden change in the 
neighborhood when the Japanese were sent to concen- 
tration camps. What remains in my memory are the 
stickpins labeled "Chinese" which we were required 
to wear to identify ourselves. 

Other thriving businesses in our neighborhood, 
during my young and innocent youth, were the 
"houses of ill repute" across the street, down the 
hill and at the hotel on the northwest corner of 
Fifteenth and Market Street. All I knew was that a 
lot of men, neatly dressed in business suits, fre- 
quently went in and out of those places. At night, 
a red light could be seen burning in a window. When 
Tacoma made national headlines, during the Crime 
Commission investigations in the early fifties, I 
recognized several of the personalities implicated. 
I never observed any outward display of solicita- 
tion which is so evident today in downtown Tacoma. 

My brothers and sisters and I made friends with 
some of the single, older men and women who lived 
in homes in the neighborhood. We did not know all 
of them by name, but identified them by their kind- 
nesses to us. Since my mother did not speak Eng- 
lish, this was our way of describing the person to 
her. There was the "Peach" lady for the peaches 
she gave us, and the "Cherry" lady for the cherries 
she gave us. At 1548 Market Street lived the "Car- 
penter," Tom Nelson, who did miscellaneous carpen- 
try work for my dad. I remember him for his ruddy 
face and bowlegs. These people are remembered for 


125 


being good to us and for allowing us to play in 
their yards. At the end of the block, Mr. and 
Mrs. Tony Riggio owned our favorite grocery store. 
They had the best chewy, chocolate-covered mint 
squares which sold for a penny a piece. To my 
knowledge, no other store had them. 

Another person I remember vividly, is Eugene 
Rumbaugh. He lived in a big imposing house at 
1136 Market Street, the only house on the west 
side of the street, next door to Corbitt's Poultry 
store. The house was surrounded by beautiful flow- 
ers and large trees. He is remembered for being 
so deaf. His deafness did not deter us from rat- 
tling his door whenever we felt like taking a 
break from shopping. We really had to rattle his 
door and peek into his window to get his attention. 
He always had a cozy fire in the kitchen. He 
would talk to us and we would respond by writing 
notes on his note pad which was always close by. I 
can't recall what we talked about, but I sure do 
remember his beautiful flowers and silver holly 
tree. He would pick the prettiest ones for us. 

Another favorite stopping off point for us after 
school was the home where Mr. and Mrs. Ward DuKette 
lived at 91 9^ South Fawcett Avenue. They had the 
cutest little white house with a white picket fence 
and lovely flowers. It was like a doll house with 
adults living in it. They had many little knick- 
knacks and decorations. On their bed sat a beauti- 
ful doll, almost lifelike, with a full, fluffy sa- 
tin skirt which covered the entire bed. Sometimes 
Mrs. DuKette would play the piano for us and Mr. 
DuKette would play the guitar. Before we left, Mrs. 
DuKette would serve us the Chinese ginger candies, 
lichee nuts and cookies which my parents gave them 
as gifts. Mother did not know that we were the 
real recipients of the tasty treats until I told 
her about it years later. The DuKettes, having no 
children of their own, treated us as if we were 
their children. 


126 


In 1947, my parents bought their first home in 
my brother's name. As a non-citizen, my parents 
were not allowed to buy a home. Therefore, they 
had to wait until my brother, Shun Lein, became of 
age. When father died in 1960, my brother trans- 
ferred the home at 1532 Market Street to my young- 
er brother. Shun Chih, and me. 

Shortly thereafter. Shun Chih, our reluctant 
mother and I moved to the home in which I now re- 
side. As the years passed, the house on Market 
Street deteriorated and had to be razed and level- 
ed, following the receipt of a similar certified 
letter from the City of Tacoma. The area had been 
rezoned commercial and it was no longer cost-effec- 
tive to improve a single residential house in the 
area. 

In response to the City's latest notice, my check 
of the property on Market Street revealed a squat- 
ter was making the place his "open-air" residence. 
It took many personal confrontations, police assis- 
tance, filing of a formal complaint and the cooper- 
ation from the people in the immediate neighborhood 
to get the squatter, Albert Mesplie, to leave. Af- 
ter the bulldozer cleaned up the debris, I looked 
around the area which I had called home for many 
years. How sad it is, I thought to myself, to have 
such a beautiful place to view Mt. Rainier and not 
use it as it once was years ago. I stood there and 
looked at the view to the east against the skyline. 
I could see to the north, the new Sheraton Hotel, 
the new Financial Center Building, the old Schoen- 
feld's Furniture Store, many old buildings on Com- 
merce Street and beyond; across the street on Mar- 
ket the modernized Tutor Craft Building, and the 
old Restmore Mattress Company; and to the south, 
the dome of the old Union Station, the old Carlton 
Hotel, more old buildings, and the new Tacoma Dome. 

Quite an interesting conglomerate of the old and 
the new. 


127 


FIFE SCHOOLDAYS 

By Gladys Para 

The few years I lived in Fife were a freeing-up 
time when my green birthday bicycle helped in 
learning an environment new to me. Previously re- 
stricted by roller skates to the Spokane streets 
from home to school and neighborhood park, in Fife 
I reached out of childhood and ranged new, preado- 
lescent territory. 

The details I recall from the period 1939-43 all 
are connected to sounds and smells and colors: pur- 
ple boysenberries and red-green strawberry rows; a 
hot-blowing line of milk cows moving past my van- 
tage point, chosen to avoid their splattering muck, 
and into the neighbor's barn each afternoon; the 
strange, sharp scent of sulphur-yellow broom dried 
between the pages of a book made of harsh brown pa- 
per towels. 

The order of importance of those impressions of 
Fife is imposed by memory long after the fact and 
not chronological ly. However, I know now that the 
move to Tacoma Junction was a major mark in my fa- 
ther's own chronology, for we ate better after we 
got there. His new job was with the Milwaukee Rail- 
road as an electrical substation operator, and a 
house came with it. Our front door was separated 
only by a picket fence and narrow roadway from the 
thundering, frequent trains, but in our backyard 
lay lovely green spaces to explore. 

A rather large pasture behind us was bordered on 
the north side by Highway 99, with A1 and Mabel 
Bunge's Texaco Station and the old green bridge over 
the Puyallup, punctuating the far west corner. Bor- 
dering the field nearest our house was an impenetra- 
ble jungle of untended boysenberries. My younger 
brother and I were delighted when offered money to 
pick some by the Junction's telegraph operator. We 


128 


had never gathered food before on the sidewalks of 
Spokane, and the pay seemed undeserved. He handed 
us 50 cents and a huge stew cauldron. We filled 
it, learning much about new stuff like thorns, hu- 
midity and weight vs. volume of displacement. 

That opportunistic operator spent his workdays 
in a tiny hut slightly larger than a phone booth, 
built up high and so close to the tracks I always 
watched to see if, next time, a swaying boxcar 
would get it. Opposite his office, on the near 
side of the rails, stood the huge, brick electri- 
cal substation where my father worked, a short 
stroll down a plank path from home. Home was one 
of the three houses assigned to the round-the- 
clock substation crew. The five buildings, with a 
row of shacky garages 1 920 ‘ s style-wide, made the 
total Tacoma Junction community. 

My brother and I were accustomed to creating our 
own play, and at first we spent much time tramping 
through all that green, or daring the steep levee 
against the muddy Puyallup, and acquiring the fair- 
ly useless skills of walking swiftly on a rail 
without slipping and stepping smartly along every 
tie without missing. At dusk we sometimes held 
pretended Easter hunts and gathered dead light 
bulbs in the tall grass below the blinking "Mil- 
waukee Road" spelled out on the highway side of 
our dad's brick building. Our rules required us 
to synchronize our movements with the blinks; look 
and grab while on, freeze when off. 

But Igrewolder quicker than Ronnie did, and soon 
left him in the dust of my bicycle. I never used 
it as a means of getting to school--the snarling, 
stinking schoolbus was the approved way, and I 
think the gassy fumes must have been habit-forming 
because I looked forward to them daily--but my 
bike did take me to the wide "Otherwhere." I would 
meet with friends or go alone, east along the le- 
vee to Puyallup, or cross the highway for the back 
roads to Ducktown or on up to Lake Surprise; or 


129 


head west toward the exotic, foreboding stench of 
a small rendering plant situated, I believed, in 
hiding, under the bridge. 

The other constant smells associated with Tacoma 
from the smelter in Ruston and the pulp mill on 
the tideflats, ebbed and flowed daily and we took 
them for granted. It seems to me they provoked 
far less comment than did the aroma of the beef 
cattle feed lot where I lived many adult years and 
which I also accepted as a given. 

The Fife School, a campus of three handsome 
buildings and grounds for sports, was a stimulat- 
ing contrast to my old grade school. The air of 
its lunchroom always held a subtle blend of maca- 
roni and cheese, green beans and oranges being 
peeled. A home track meet meant the unmatchable 
smell and taste of a hot dog with mustard, handed 
down when the money was handed up, out of a class- 
room window. I remember being far more serious a- 
bout hot dogs than about competing in my own event. 

I was very serious about taking notes in the dark 
during our classroom movies. Mr. Kruzner believed 
strongly in audio-visual instruction and I loved 
the irrelevant juxtaposition of the music that 
lurched alongside the action depicted. When the 
subject was erosion and water was shown growing 
from a drip to a trickle to a river, however, the 
music was usually right. 

I can still hear the lovely WHOMP of my fist on 
the volleyball when I was on an unbreakable roll as 
server, one noontime game in the gym. And up in 
the highest bleachers of that gym I learned to as- 
sociate a string of bright color with patience. A 
girl named Kazuko sat there one day, unravelling an 
endlessly tangled, multicolor line of balloons and 
I attempted to help her, just to watch her success 
happen. 

Kazuko, a year ahead of me, was one of the kids 


130 


I went to find in the Puyallup Fairgrounds after 
internment was imposed upon Japanese-Americans. 

There is not much I remember about Fife after 
Pearl Harbor, for it has mostly been replaced by 
the experience of seeing my eighth-grade school- 
mates taken away, suddenly. We moved away our- 
selves, two springs later. 

It must have been the next June, for I remember 
stuffing red roses from the neighbors' bush into 
my bike basket, when I began riding down the levee 
on Sundays to the side of the Puyallup Fair. At 
first I wandered about the place, searching through 
the several gates for familiar faces, but soon 
learned in which compounds to ask for my friends. 

We understood what we had been told: "It's because 
of the war." But I was as mystified about why my 
friend, Esther Mizukami, had to be there as she was 
at the rupture in her life. 

The year before we both had gone eagerly to the 
Puyallup Fair, holding in our hands the free entry 
tickets given to all the region's school children. 

It sure didn't smell like scones and cedar sawdust, 
anymore. To this day, the scent of a red rose 
brings Esther's face to mind. 

My first experience with giving a day's work for 
a day's pay was on the truck farms of the parents 
of my Japanese-American school friends, though I 
am not positive I worked for the Mizukami s. Those 
farmers must have hired us junior high-schoolers to 
pick their berries and beans as a last resort. We 
learned on the job how not to sucker corn and the 
wrong way to thin lettuce. Every sort of plant I 
worked in offered yet another shade of green. It 
was hot work; by contrast, inside Mizukami 's green- 
house the enclosed dampness seemed sweet and warm. 

The Gardenville greenhouses are once again support- 
ing a Mizukami family, for Esther's big brother re- 
turned to Fife to earn his living. More than that, 
the community's citizens look to him for leadership 


131 


since electing him their mayor. I find it reassur- 
ing tht Fife, whose every intersection has changed, 
still contains Esther's brother Bob's greenhouses 
in its landscape. 



A singing group of upper grade girls at Fife Ele- 
mentary School, directed by Miss Helen Thrane. 
From left: Alice Jeffries, Kazuko Sakahara, 
Gladys Hutchinson (the author), Barbara Fox in 
center, Irene Isacksen, Ruth Kvamme and Margarite 
Iselin. Courtesy of the author. 


132 



schools 




This picture goes with the 
story on the following page. 



Fifth grade class at "East School" (Hawthorne). 
Courtesy of the author. 


133 


THREE GENERATIONS AT HAWTHORNE 

By Angel ine Bennett 

Entering Tacoma, driving west on Interstate 5, 
the focus of attention is a blue-diamond roof top- 
ping the city's most recent accomplishment, the 
Tacoma Dome. If one happens to be entering the 
city after dark, the flag atop the roof , spot-1 ight- 
ed against a black night sky, stirs emotions and 
pride surfaces involuntarily. The address of the 
Dome is 2727 East D Street. At one time that add- 
ress may have belonged to one of several in a row 
of houses lining that section of D Street. 

Houses also filled the numbered streets west 
where the Dome parking lots are, all the way to 
the gulch across from Brown and Haley's candy fac- 
tory. Homes occupied the area east to McKinley 
Park and beyond. Also, on East 28th Street between 
E and F, where the Dome is now located, was the 
newest of three Hawthorne schools. 

That was the school's location from 1913 until 
1981 when it was razed to make way for the Dome. 
Hawthorne had gone through several status changes 
within those years. Its predecesors, whose begin- 
nings go back to 1885, had gone through both status 
and name changes. 

Three generations of my family attended Hawthorne 
schools, first starting in 1901, but Hawthorne had 
had its beginning ten years before. 

That beginning in 1885 was in rooms of the Michael 
Shea store building on the southeast corner of 24th 
and Pacific Avenue and was called East School. 

In 1886 a meeting of the school board was held in 
which a director was elected to serve three years 
and a clerk to serve one year. Meetings in those 
days apparently were somewhat informal as other 


134 


business "as may come before the board" was held 
at the office of Dr. C.W. Harvey on Pacific Ave- 
nue next to Bonney and Kahler's drug store. (Re- 
cords show that the drug store was a great adver- 
tiser of Gilmore's Aromatic Wine which claimed 
cures for both male and female problems.) At such 
a meeting it must have been decided that a regular 
school building was needed. The contract for such 
a building was won by Knoell and Bragonier. The 
site chosen was at East 31st between D and E 
Streets; a location providing a splendid view of 
the city and harbor, and in late 1886 the new East 
School opened. 

Because of rapid population growth in the area, 
in only three years the original two room school- 
house could no longer accommodate its students. In 
1889 six new rooms were added and the name was 
changed to Hawthorne in honor of the author, Nath- 
aniel Hawthorne. 

During the years between 1885 and 1901, in addi- 
tion to the changes in Hawthorne School, the rest 
of Tacoma was building, experimenting and learning. 

In 1885 the first Polk City Directory was publ ished; 
the census figures for that year showed the popula- 
tion just under 7 ,000. 

In 1889 Tacoma students saved the hop crop when 
given a three-week vacation during a labor shortage 
emergency. The population went to 25,000 that year, 
there was a real estate boom and President Harrison 
signed us into statehood. 

In 1897 new instructions for Arbor Day came from 
the superintendent to include exercises in the form 
of recitations and songs about the preservation of 
birds. Parents at that time were to be informed by 
letter of their children's truancy and names of those 
pupils were forwarded to the Chief of Police. The 
use of alcohol and narcotics by teachers was prohi- 
bited, and that year Hawthorne was painted and side- 
walks were laid. The following year the principal 


135 


was given an office in the basement. 

Again, in 1898, Hawthorne was one of the schools 
suffering from an overcrowded condition, and a 
room in the Methodist Episcopal Church was rented. 
No doubt Hawthorne pupils were also suffering from 
a situation that doctors began complaining about. 
That was the punishment of children who asked to 
leave the room. Such punishment was abolished in 
1900 as a result of city health physicians having 
appeared before the school board two years earl ier. 
Even so, 86 years ago, one doctor voted against 
the motion for abolishing the punishment. 

Overcrowding was an ongoing problem in the ever- 
growing East Side, including Hawthorne School, but 
in 1901 the situation was largely due to admission 
of Indian children from the Puyallup Reservation. 
During that year and the next the overflow again 
attended classes in rooms rented from nearby 
churches. 

It was in 1901 that Nina Violet Anderson began 
her education. She was that first one of three 
generations to attend Hawthorne. She would one 
day become my mother-in-law. 

During the next several years, which were Nina's 
school years, there were problems concerning heal- 
th, truancy, separation of church and state, and 
equality of pay for women teachers. 

In her first year there was a smallpox epidemic 
in Tacoma and all pupils and school employees were 
required to be vaccinated against the disease. Un- 
less this order was complied with no pupil could 
return to school after Easter vacation. Perhaps 
Nina was one of those not allowed to return. Her 
mother hated doctors, believed she could cure al- 
most anything with either turpentine or kerosene, 
and the receipt for Nina's vaccination is dated 
1903. 


136 


In 1907 Hawthorne School very likely suffered a 
below-normal attendance as did other schools, be- 
cause of an epidemic of spinal meningitis. Stand- 
ing water on school grounds, cesspools and out- 
houses must have added to the health dilemma. 

Truancy in those years was not just children 
skipping school; much of it was due to their il- 
legal employment in mills and factories. This 
fact was contained in a truant officer's report to 
the school board in 1903. 

In 1905 in Tacoma schools, separation of church 
and state was dealt with promptly. When the super- 
intendent's attention was called to the fact that 
printed invitations to church were being distri- 
buted in the schools, he sent out bulletins re- 
minding them that it was forbidden. 

Women teachers were attempting in 1908 to secure 
the same pay as men. Their request was turned 
down, as it was again in 1911. 

On the plus side during those same years, was the 
appropriation of $300 to pay for an exhibit of 
school work at the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 
Portland. An early closing of school on June 22, 
1905 gave pupils a chance to enjoy the Rose Carni- 
val Parade in Tacoma, and trees were being planted 
at schools in addition to the installations of 
heating plants, repairing of roofs and laying of 
cement sidewalks. 

In 1906 the school board put the question of free 
textbooks to a public vote and those in favor won 
by a large majority. Also beginning that year no 
child under six was allowed to start school. 

Crowding at Hawthorne, fixing up extra rooms here 
and there, and renting rooms from neighboring chur- 
ches was an almost constant problem. In 1903 a two- 
story wing was added to the west end of the school 
and in 1904 Hawthorne was the third largest school 


137 


in the district, with 1062 students. 

The early 1890's had seen the introduction of 
night school, manual training classes, and the 
teaching of music in Tacoma. Whether Nina re- 
ceived her musical education in school or private- 
ly, I do not know. A picture from an era in which 
she was school age has come down to me. It is a 
picture of a music class and she is holding a gui- 
tar. Other children have banjos, violins, mando- 
lins; there is one other guitar and a zither. All 
of the girls are wearing white dresses -- so is 
the teacher. Some of the girls are wearing black 
stockings and "high-top" shoes. Not Nina. She 
has white stockings and white slippers fastened 
with bows. Her long brown hair has been "crimped" 
with a curling iron and has been careful ly arranged 
to hang down in front of one shoulder so as to show 
off to advantage its great length. A bow, fasten- 
ed to one side of it just above the ear, added a 
finishing touch. I have a feeling that her mother 
was standing not too far out of camera range and 
had posed her daughter in the best possible light. 

Because of the opening of other schools in the 
area, attendance began to decline in 1908. In 1911 
there was talk of discontinuing Hawthorne and send- 
ing pupils to other schools. Parents protested 
this because of the distance children would have 
to travel and the school board promised to consider 
the protest. 

In 1912 land was purchased for the site of a new 
school. Contracts were authorized in January 1913 
and students moved into their new building in the 
fall of that year. The new location was on East 
28th Street between E and F. 

That year because of requests by the Hawthorne 
Improvement Club and the PTA, the school board a- 
greed to add the sixth, seventh and eighth grades 
the following semester. By 1919 people in the area 
were again requesting that the seventh and eighth 
grades be maintained at the school. Students were 


138 




then given the option of attending those grades at 
other schools or remaining at Hawthorne. 

By 1920 Nina Anderson had become Nina Anderson 
Bennett and had a son. Jack, ready to enter the 
first grade at Hawthorne. That new pupil, some 
years later, became my husband. 

In 1923 there was not a large enough enrollment 
in kindergarten at Hawthorne so it was discontin- 
ued and the room was used for a sewing class. 

The following year, 1924, there was no longer a 
controversy over middle school as property for 
Gault Intermediate had been purchased. This was 
the school in which Jack would continue his educa- 
tion. In 1925 the contract was let for building 
and in 1926 the school opened -- just in time for 
Jack to enter. Sixty years later a plant sits on 
a simple little wooden stool in my home that he 
made in wood shop. 

During his years at Hawthorne the despised short 
pants for boys was in style. Every boy seemed to 
hate them as Jack did and they probably were as vo- 
cal about it as he. They lived for the day when 
they could graduate to long pants. 

Kindergartens came and went at Hawthorne during 
those years, poppies were planted at the schools 
as a memorial to the soldiers who had died in the 
first World War, and again as during his mother's 
school years. Jack's school came under the rule of 
compulsory vaccination for smallpox. An even great- 
er dread was that of infantile paralysis. 

In 1934, one of the depression years, schools be- 
gan to furnish needy children with lunches. Even 
before that, Hawthorne was at least furnishing 
soup. I remember the corn chowder a neighbor woman 
made and served to children there. That also was 
the year the old Hawthorne site (originally East 
School) was leased to the City for the removal of 


139 


gravel. The lease was in use until 1939. 

In 1942, as Mrs. Jack Bennett, I sent our six- 
year-old son, Gary, off to school -- at Hawthorne. 
Two years earlier it had been decided to transfer 
the classes to other schools so as to use part of 
Hawthorne for vocational training classes. Gary 
was not in that transfer and attended the first and 
second grades at Hawthorne. Then we moved to an- 
other area of town and lost personal contact with 
the school . 

In the 1960's many homes in that area were re- 
moved in clearing for the Interstate 5 freeway. 
Protests raged against this move as many people had 
lived there for their entire lives. They were over- 
ruled eventually and one of the results was the de- 
cline in enrollment at Hawthorne. In 1963 the 
school was closed. 

Hawthorne stood vacant for three years and then 
was reopened as a center for Head Start and other 
children's educational programs. This use contin- 
ued from 1966 to 1973. At that time it was turned 
over to the Puyallup Tribal Council and it was the 
Chief Leschi School until 1980. 

In 1981, from demolished brick and cement, from 
the spawning ground of dreams and scene of memories 
the Dome emerged to punctuate Tacoma's progress and 
promise. 

Hawthorne alumni, fiercely loyal, have continued 
throughout the years since 1951 to meet and remin- 
isce. They still do every fall. 


In addition to personal knowledge, sources of 
research for this article were: "Brief History of 
Tacoma School District #10 - 1869-1940" compiled by 
the Works Project Administration. "For the Record 
A History of the Tacoma Public Schools - 1869-1984" 
by Winifred Olson. 


140 


SCHOOL BELLS RINGING 

By Mary Etta Doubleday 


\\ L*t ^ 

U'rf&U t-U 

My school days began at Sheridan Elementary and 
the teachers who were my favorites were the Misses 
Monnis, Simpson, Baird and Allen. Several of the 
Sheridan teachers moved on to Gault Junior High 
School which opened in 1927. Both Miss Smith and 
Mrs. Wright taught there. Meantime I was taking 
piano lessons from Miss Jane Oliver and living in 
terror of the times when I would have to play from 
memory in recitals. Playing from notes for church 
and Sunday School and with the orchestra at Gault 
seemed fairly simple. D.P. Nason was music direc- 
tor for Tacoma schools and made periodic visits to 
each school. One memorable time at Gault when I 
was accompanying some dancers doing the Highland 
Fling, he decided to play his violin with us. We 
had rehearsed at the dancers' tempo, but Mr. Nason 
chose to pick up the beat to a pace beyond the dan- 
cers. They finally just walked off the stage. 

High School days were an endless joy. There was 
little social climbing at Lincoln -- everyone was 
in the same boat -- poor. I had given up competing 
on the keyboard since there were in that large en- 
rollment, very talented and capable piano players. 

I sang in the glee club and in the girls' sextet, 
quartet and mixed quartets. We performed portions 
of 'The Messiah"each December and several operettas 
such as "Mademoiselle Modiste," "New Moon" and "Bo- 
hemian Girl." Our quartet and sextet performed in 
various competitions on the stage of the Temple 
Theater, on radio stations in Tacoma and Seattle 
and for such groups as Eastern Star and Masonic 
Lodge. Musical activities in those days were extra- 
curricular and required many after school hours of 
rehearsals and performances. Margaret Rawson Go- 
heen was music director at Lincoln. 

Working on the Lincoln News staff was most enjoy- 
able and I acquired a "string book" full of by-line 


141 


stories. The paper won top (medalist) ratings in 
national competition. Homer A. Post was a very 
effective taskmaster and we learned the basics of 
journalism thoroughly. I went on in later years 
to write frequently for the Bremerton Sun whose 
editor was Julius Gius, also a Lincoln alumnus. 

The ability to earn money loomed as a dark cloud 
and challenge. My only prior financial enterprise 
was trying to sell apples and cherries from our 
trees to people who already had an abundance of 
trees of their own. I was about six years old then, 
timid and terribly afraid of dogs, so the whole 
venture was a great unsuccess. 

My mother hoped that I would become a school tea- 
cher and the future looked promising when I achieved 
the three-year honor roll in high school. The next 
year I enrolled at the College of Puget Sound. The 
scholastic competition there was worlds ahead of 
high school as was the social competition. Feeling 
that I was quite an accomplished writer, I was 
somewhat shattered to be in Dr. Lyle Ford Drushell 1 s 
composition class with Morris Webster, a radio KVI 
announcer, who had a world of travel and experience 
from which to draw. Grading was on a curve and I 
no longer had all "A's" to show for my labors. CPS 
was also an expensive school. At the end of that 
year I enrolled in Tacoma Secretarial School in the 
Medical Arts Building. Lyle Lemley had just opened 
the school and acquired two fine teachers, Jessie 
Langstaff and Gladys Peterson. 

The building was new and the south half of the 
third floor was unfinished when Tacoma Secretarial 
School set up shop, so we were allowed to keep mul- 
tigraph and mimeograph machines and supplies there. 
The machines were in constant use. On occasion sem- 
inars and demonstrations for doctors and medical 
personnel were set up in the same open area. Cada- 
vers were brought in and various procedures were 
demonstrated on them. If we were in the same vicin- 
ity to operate copy machines, the doctors assumed 
we were part of the medical world and invited us to 
observe their demonstrations. An overpowering 
squeamishness prevented my joining them and I stayed 
away as far as possible when their programs were in 
progress . 


Meantime Bob Doubleday and I had decided to be 
married on November 19, 1937. In 1938 he accepted 
his first federal civil service appointment at the 
dam-site in Fort Peck, Montana. After a few mon- 
ths I resigned from my job and joined him there. 

The hospital needed a secretary and although I had 
not taken a civil service exam and was not on any 
register, I was hired on the spot in a temporary 
appointment. Our one year in Montana was an ex- 
perience we will never forget. We made many good 
friends and lived through temperatures that ranged 
from -40 degrees to +40 in one 24-hour period. It 
was our first time away from Washington and famil- 
ies and we lasted one year. My husband resigned 
his position to go to school at CPS. I went to 
work at radio station KMO Tacoma which was owned 
by Carl Haymond. My days were filled with ad writ- 
ing, bookkeeping and stenography and associating 
with a number of former Lincoln classmates. 

In 1940 my husband was offered a federal civil 
service appointment in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, 
Bremerton. I commuted from Bremerton to my job at 
KMO, riding the bus over Galloping Gertie (the Ta- 
Coma Narrows Bridge) until shortly before it col- 
lapsed. My husband worked his way up through var- 
ious positions as administrative assistant and fi- 
nally as personnel recruiter for engineers, scien- 
tists and blue collar workers. I worked one year 
in the shipyard's Material Section. It was at the 
time the British battleship "Warspite" came into 
the shipyard for repairs with all its battle scars 
much in evidence. I decided I would rather stay at 
home and start a family than be a part of the war 
effort. 

We lived with the skies full of barrage balloons 
and the surrounding waters strung with submarine 
nets. Rumors kept the imagination a-twitter, vis- 
ualizing enemy submarines lurking underwater, ready 
to destroy the shipyard. A neighbor was sitting at 
her dining room table, writing letters one morning, 
when the whole house began to darken. She was ter- 
rified and rushed outside to see what wartime tra- 
gedy had befallen the city. A barrage balloon had 
broken loose from its morrings and drifted away, de- 
flating gradually as it draped itself over her 
house, blocking out all daylight. 


When we traveled to Tacoma to visit our families, 
the ferries were blacked out and with no running 
lights, one could only hope the captain knew the 
waters well. We stood in long lines to buy nylons 
and cigarettes and gasoline was rationed and hoard- 
ed. Again, since everyone was living through that 
bleak time together, many close friendships were 
formed and simple amusements were enjoyed. Our 
first son was born in 1943 and his sister in 1945, 
then a second son in 1952. The years went by 
quickly in Bremerton until they totaled 30 and my 
husband could retire. He had never real ly di vorced 
himself from Tacoma where he was born and we re- 
turned in 1978. 

After 12 years of trekking to Arizona to spend 
our winters in the sun, we bought a house in the 
Westgate area of Tacoma and are back to the never- 
ending chores of the householder: maintenance and 
yard work. Retirement has certainly not been a 
bore. My husband and I are active in the Laubach 
Literacy program, a one-on-one method of teaching 
illiterates to read and write English. Each of us 
has a foreign student. To our weekly teaching as- 
signments we have added the responsibility of or- 
dering and distributing the books and materials 
used in the program. Tutor meetings are held month- 
ly and new tutor workshops are held four times a 
year. 

Our children and grandchildren live in Bremerton 
and Seattle and we spend time with them frequently 
along with keeping up with old and new friends. 

And so it has gone, day after day and year after 
year, until they have added up to 70 this year. In 
retrospect, the time flew by and we have gone full 
circle from Tacoma and back to Tacoma. 


144 


OFF TO SCHOOL 

By Robert Doubleday 

My academic career began in 1922 in the old Lo- 
gan Grade School, located at the corner of South 
Twenty-first and J Street. The building started 
out as the first home of the University of Puget 
Sound, the founders of which had been agonizing 
for some time on a choice of sites: Tacoma, Port 
Townsend or Portland. The Tacoma advocates won 
out and in 1888 the land on J Street was acquired, 
the architectural and construction contracts were 
awarded and in 1889 site excavation commenced. The 
building was completed in time for the University 
to open its doors to students on September 15, 1890 
with Dr. F. B. Cherington as president. Dr. E. H. 
Todd in his book "College of Puget Sound - a Dream 
Realized", provides the details on the early his- 
tory of the university. 

Hard times followed the opening of the new build- 
ing and the University occupied it for only one 
year when it was leased to the City of Tacoma for 
$4,000 a year, to be used as a grammar school. It 
was known in the Tacoma District as University 
School. In 1896 its name was changed to honor John 
A. Logan, a prominent Civil War Union general and 
political figure. 

My mother, who was born in Tacoma in 1890, attend- 
ed Logan School and I went there for my first two 
years of schooling. Since this was in my "damp- 
behind-the-ears stage", I remember very little a- 
bout Logan except that it was an imposing structure 
with a great central staircase, high ceilings, and 
a tower over the main entrance. I remember very 
clearly however, that I wore short pants and a sort 
of harness arrangement over my shoulders and under- 
neath my shirt, with long garters attached, to hold 
up my long black stockings. I believe this was the 
costume of the time for young boys but I detested 
that whole blamed contraption; it was about on a par 


145 


with being in diapers! How deliriously happy I was 
when I pulled on my first pair of long pants when 
I reached the august age of nine or ten. 

It was while I was in Logan that romantic first 
love imposed itself on me. I had a crush on a lit- 
tle brown-eyed girl in my class. My father, a lov- 
ing and understanding man, would give me fifty cents 
so I could rent two Shetland ponies from a family 
named Sivertson, who stabled the little animals on 
their place near the South 19th Street water reser- 
voir. My "tootsie" and I would ride down through 
our neighborhood so I could lord it over my pals. 

These brief and happy days in Logan came to an 
end in 1924 when the building was closed prepara- 
tory to being razed to make way for the new McCar- 
ver Intermediate. Our class was moved into a tem- 
porary building on the grounds of the old Lincoln 
Grade School at South 16th and K Street. Our tea- 
cher, in this homely structure with its wood-burn- 
ing stove, was a dear little soul. Miss Bosse. We 
all loved her. Unfortunately, our stay under her 
kindly tutelage didn't last. We were moved into 
the main building at Lincoln and delivered into 
the hands of a harridan with a worried eye and a 
rotten disposition. When Christmas season neared 
she chose to sing some carols for us. Several of 
the boys snickered at her efforts, at which she 
took umbrage and broke a yardstick over the skull 
of one of our stalwarts and sent me out into the 
cloakroom, where she collared me and sent me to 
the principal's office. Now the principal, bless 
her soul, looked as if she were about one step away 
from her eternal reward but I would have much pre- 
ferred to enter a den of ravenous lions than to go 
into her office. So I passed it by and went on 
home where I told my Dad the story and he took me 
out of the clutches of the witch and sent me to 
Longfellow on South 25th and Yakima; here I had a 
peaceful time. 

The schoolyard at Longfellow, like other elemen- 
tary schools, was bare dirt and rock. There were 


146 


a few level and smooth spots which lent themselves 
admirably to the game of marbles which had been de- 
veloped to an advanced level at Longfellow; we boys 
matched our talents in several circles scribed in 
the dirt. Our shooters were "aggies", (agates) 

"steel ies" , (steel ball bearings) or "glassies", 

(made of variously colored glass). The aggies were 
treasured since they were the most costly and had 
eye and snob appeal. Steelies were eventually ban- 
ned since they were indestructible and so heavy that 
they damaged the other marbles. Glassies were the 
most common variety although there was a marble of 
even lower classification made of some sort of pot- 
tery material. Only the poorest kids used these and 
they broke quite easily. Two kinds of games were 
played: for fun and for keeps. When you played for 
fun the marbles you lost were returned to you at the 
end of the game. When you played for keeps the win- 
ner kept the marbles he had won. I rarely played for 
keeps since I was such a poor shot, typical of my 
other excursions in the field of athletics or games. 

I never had the right equipment to cut any ice as an 
athlete. No team captain ever picked me as his first 
choice regardless of what game we were to play, even 
if it was "spit on a crack." I was not an accompl i sh- 
ed spitter, either. 

The musical education of grade school students was 
supervised by Mr. D. P. Nason, who I believe, visit- 
ed all of the schools in town, made an appearance in 
each classroom where he played semi-classical tunes 
on his fiddle, and then asked us some questions which 
we couldn't answer. I think we were somewhat bemused 
by this performance but it was a welcome distraction. 
I have no idea how our collective musical knowledge 
or tastes were affected by Mr. Nason. But I do re- 
member him. That's something. 

My days at Longfellow ended when our family moved 
to the country to "farm-sit" a twenty-acre place a- 
bout a mile and a half west of Parkland. I walked 
across the prairies to Parkland Grade School. I be- 
lieve there were only a couple of houses between the 


147 


ranch , which was situated next to what has since 
become McChord Air Base, and the village of Park- 
land. The scotch broom was just beginning to in- 
fest the prairies after having been imported from 
Europe some years before by someone who felt that 
he was making an important addition to the local 
flora. In warm weather the seed pods would snap 
and crack like firecrackers when they opened. 

Parkland Grade School had a manual training class 
where I learned, among other useful things, which 
end of a screwdriver to hang onto and where I made 
a bottle cap opener which I still have. Although 
I don't have much use for it anymore. 

I have fond memories of the year and a half on 
that twenty acres where I had a pond and a raft and 
we had cows, chickens, ducks, turkeys, assorted do- 
mestic animals, and a few wild ones. The house we 
lived in was primitive. We had no electricity and 
no inside plumbing. The privy, on a rainy winter 
night, seemed to be about a mile from the house, 
although it probably wasn't more than a quarter of 
a mile. The underpart of the building was open and 
one time we kept hearing the cries of a cat issuing 
forth from that space. I crawled under the house 
to find a poor pussy suffering terribly, and loudly 
from a badly torn hind leg which was alive with mag- 
gots. Father was gone but I fetched his old rifle, 
crawled back under the house and took the cat's 9th 
life. Then, of course, I had to burythe mess. But 
I felt quite manly and very much in charge of the 
situation. I was about twelve at the time. And 
Lindberg had just crossed the Atlantic. 

After a year or so on that ranch we moved back in- 
to town and I went to McCarver Intermediate School. 
It had been opened only a few short years and was 
quite grand, with an auditorium, stage, gymnasium, 
lunchroom and separate classrooms for each subject. 
We felt much older and wiser and took oursel ves very 
seriously. I remember taking a year of Latin at 
McCarver - unheard of today at that level. And I 


148 


made new friends: Roy Wonders, Mel Miller, Jack 
Hadlund and Roy Peterson. Occasionally I see one 
of these chaps around town. 

I went to Lincoln High School and remember clear- 
ly my exposure to Homer Post, the journal i sm teach- 
er, and his persistence in demanding the best from 
us. We were proud of the Lincoln News which often 
won top marks in national competitions. Post's 
star pupil was Jim Reems who wrote sports for the 
Lincoln News. They battled constantly over nothing 
at all. Everyone knew that they had nothing but 
great respect and affection for each other. Jim 
went on in later years to found the " Navy Yard Sa- 
1 ute " , the house organ of the Puget Sound Naval 
Shipyard, and to remain as its editor for thirty 
years. I saw him often in the shipyard and we 
shared reminiscences of our days on the Lincoln 
News. 


I took a French class from a handsome and impres- 
sive lady, Mrs. Messelin, who I believe was a war 
bride and who may have regretted leaving her belov- 
ed France. She was smartly dressed and wore her 
hair in a regal, upswept manner. On one of our an- 
nual back-to-school nights my parents met Mrs. Mes- 
selin when she was most impressive, in a velvet 
gown with ropes of pearls. She, too, was a demand- 
ing and competent teacher. There was no fooling a- 
round in her class. She may have had a sense of hu- 
mor but I never saw any evidence of it. Serious 
was the word. 

I graduated, without distinction, from Lincoln in 
1934 in what was said to have been the largest high 
school class in the State. I've forgotten the exact 
number but it was well over 500 students. 


149 


TO SCHOOL ON FOOT 

By Eunice Huffman 

In the early 1930's , when I was attending high 
school, there were only two public high schools in 
the Tacoma District; Lincoln and Stadium. These 
schools drew students from a large area. 

Very few students had cars so they had to seek 
other modes of transportation to school. Many tea- 
chers used public transportation. Some students 
were lucky to get rides in carpools, others thumbed 
rides, some rode bicycles, but many of us walked. 

The students who lived a distance from school, 
such as in Spanaway or Hilltop, would have to rely 
on the streetcar for transportation. If connections 
were not good the student would be excused from 
rol 1 room or allowed to enter first period class 
late. 

For those who lived in areas deemed too far for 
walking, school streetcar tickets were available. 

They could be purchased in small booklets at 40 for 
one dollar. Walking distance students were not al- 
lowed to purchase the tickets but sometimes one 
could find someone willing to sell a ticket or two. 
Today this would be called "scalping". 

I lived near the corner of 37th and McKinley Ave- 
nue so was one of the walking group. I would pur- 
chase tickets, when available, to use in bad weath- 
er or when I had a need to go downtown after school . 
When riding the streetcar with a ticket you could 
get a transfer which was to be used at the nearest 
connecting point. For me that meant catching the 
streetcar in front of school along with many other 
students. The rule was you had to tear your ticket 
out of the book on boarding but because of the home- 
ward rush, the conductor seldom querried those of us 
with loose tickets. My connection point was 24th 


150 


and Pacific Avenue to the McKinley Avenue car but 
on occasion I would ride downtown and then try us- 
ing my transfer. This got me a lecture from the 
conductor but I always had cash for fare in reser- 
ve in case I met a strict conductor! 

My walk to school was a mile directly east and 
west, across 37th Street as Lincoln High School 
was situated on South 37th and G Streets. There 
were two gulches to pass over which were spanned 
by wooden bridges. The roadway went downhill to 
the larger bridge and up a sharp hill on the other 
side. The Harrison Brothers Company gravel pit 
owned by Neil P. Harrison sat at the end of the 
bridge. Under the bridge ran the Milwaukee, St. 
Paul Railroad. Its route was to far away places 
like Morton. In the spring boys would often run 
down into the gulch and hop the empty log cars and 
ride away to a new adventure. The second gulch 
was smaller and did not afford much excitement. A 
few homes and large areas of vacant land completed 
the road site. 

On rainy days the walk to school was not too plea- 
sant. It meant donning a raincoat and rubbers and 
carrying a black umbrella. Mother had made me an 
oilcloth totebag so I could manipulate books and 
lunch along with my umbrella. At Lincoln High the 
girls' lockers were in the basement. The wet um- 
brellas were placed on top of the lockers to dry 
and occasionally one would disappear so I usually 
tried to secure mine to the locker handle or set it 
inside. 

On occasion if I was walking alone, the father of 
one of my classmates would offer me a ride to scho- 
ol in his car or sometimes he would whiz right by 
me; I never quite knew what the decision was based 
on. There was one person who always stopped and 
offered a ride but I had been warned by my father 
never to accept a ride from him as his reputation 
was not good. Father never explained the man's 
problem but whenever my father told me something, I 
was sure to believe it. 


151 


Friendships formed on my walks to school made 
lasting memories. Now, however, 37th Street has 
been re-routed to 38th and the bridges and gravel 
pit are gone. A freeway spur runs up the gulch 
so 37th Street has been closed at the gulch. The 
smaller-bridged gulch has been filled and will be 
put to future commercial use. 


152 


HOLY ROSARY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 

By Mary Olson 

In January of 1930 my mother, Elizabeth Monta, 
was finally able to enroll me in the first grade 
of Holy Rosary School. I was eight years old and 
had learned to read and write at home. She had 
tried to start me in school the previous fall but 
the school was over crowded and they would not ac- 
cept any more students. 

Tuition was $4 a month. Dad worked it off by 
shingling the old house back of the church which 
served as a convent. 

We did not wear uniforms as many of the parents 
could not afford to buy special clothing for scho- 
ol. Each year Mother bought me five cotton dress- 
es and one pair of shoes. These had to last all 
year. The dresses were bought at the Dollar Store 
on Broadway and cost $1 each. I can't remember 
where the shoes were purchased, possibly at Pesse- 
mier's on Pacific. Stockings and vests, as little 
girls undershirts were called, were probably bought 
at Penneys, petticoats were made at home, usually 
out of flour sacks. I wore two pair of bloomers, 
one of flannel and an outer pair of black sateen! 
Long cotton stockings were held up by a kind of 
harness which fit over the shoulders. Sleeves had 
to reach to the elbow and skirts to below the knee. 
These were not school rules, but my mother's! Some 
of my classmates wore sleeveless dresses and ankle 
socks but I was not allowed such modern and shame- 
less fashions. I should add that I did not resent 
this as most of my friends dressed just as I did. 

Many lessons were learned by rote. In the first 
grade we sang the alphabet and sounded each letter, 
over and over. In later years, the times tables 
were learned the same way. I can still remember 
word for word, many questions and answers from the 
catechism. 


153 


We had spelling bees, not only for spelling but 
for other subjects, too. Prizes were little holy 
cards. Every phase of school life had its own 
strict rules. 

School mornings started early. Mother called us 
at 6:00am and after a breakfast of mush with milk 
and sugar, or fried eggs and potatoes, we would 
go through sun or rain, sleet or snow, to the 
streetcar line, three blocks away from home, at 
South 78th and Yakima. Then came the long ride 
down Yakima to 38th. Between 48th and 38th on 
Yakima there were poles down the middle of the 
street carrying the power lines for the streetcars . 
We were cautioned to keep our hands inside the 
car. No reaching out to touch the poles or this 
might result in our arms being torn from their 
sockets! We turned down 38th to G Street and then 
to the Del in Street Hill, getting off across from 
the church at Tacoma Avenue. 

The fare was a ride and Mother would give me 
two tickets every morning. If I lost the ticket, 

I walked home. Losing things like streetcar tic- 
kets, rain hats, umbrellas or school books, was 
something I did regularly. Many trips had to be 
made after school to the car barn at 13th and A 
Street to retrieve things that I had carelessly 
left on the streetcar. 

Many afternoons were spent walking home voluntar- 
ily, to sell raffle tickets house to house. My 
girlfriend would take one side of the street and I 
would take the other. "Would you like to take a 
chance on a pair of pillow slips? Three chances 
for only a quarter." 

Most doors were slammed in our faces but once in 
a while we would sell three to someone, and then. 
Oh, how tickled we were! 

On arrival at school we went first to the coat- 
room where we hung up our coats, hats, scarves and 


154 


put away our galoshes. Then to the schoolroom to 
put our books in our desks and down to the base- 
ment to get in line, each class in its 1 own place, 
girls in front, boys behind. When all the grades 
were assembled, the pastor, Father Mark Weismann, 
would lead us in morning prayers. After that we 
all said the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the 
Star Spangled Banner. Then we all marched in for- 
mation to the church, where we sat according to 
grade. Boys on the right of the central aisle, 
girls to the left. First grade in the front pews 
and behind them the second grade and so on to the 
eighth. The church was crowded. Parishioners, 
other than schoolchildren, sat on the side aisles 
or in the back. Each class was watched over by a 
Benedictine Nun and woe to the boy or girl who 
dared to laugh or whisper. Sister had a thimble 
on her finger and would reach out and whack him or 
her on the head with it. 

School was fun. I enjoyed learning new things, 
loved to read, and considered arithmetic a game. 
Once a week we had dancing or music lessons. I 
never learned to play an instrument but was given 
a triangle or notched sticks to keep time with. 

We were taught the musical scale in the second 
grade, again by rote, and taught to read simple 
music. I can still recall one of the little songs 
we sang to learn the scale, and have taught it to 
my grandchildren. 

"One I love, two I love. Daddy dear and Mother. 

Do do do, re re re, mi fa so, la la so. 

Three I love with all my heart, darling little 
brother. 

So fa fa so fa mi mi, mi re re mi re do." 

Once a year the school put on a show for the 
parents, to give us a chance to show off our skil- 
ls. Oh, how proud we were in our costumes, going 
through our paces. I remember one year my class 
did a Dutch song and dance. That same year my 
brother, John, was a sailor and danced the horn- 
pipe. 


155 


Of course, there were many religious holy days 
and feast days. Then we girls were dressed in 
white dresses and veils. The boys wore dark suits 
with white shirts and dark ties. We marched into 
church carrying candles, singing hymns and feeling 
oh, so proud of ourselves. 

If there was a fight on the playground during re- 
cess the combatants were separated and sent to see 
the assistant pastor, Father Anthony. He would 
have them meet him after school in the alleyway to 
the east of the school building. There they would 
fight it out under his watchful eye. I never knew 
of a fight between girls. We were taught that we 
were young ladies and of course, would never do 
anything as crude as fighting! Even a tomboy like 
myself, who would fight at the drop of a hat in the 
neighborhood, would never have dreamed of fighting 
in school . 

Spankings were administered by the sisters with 
the blackboard pointer, or there might be swats on 
the open hand with a ruler. Usually punishment 
took the form of writing sentences during recess or 
after school. It took a lot of playtime to write, 
"I will not talk in school" 100 times. Sisters had 
all the time in the world to wait there until you 
finished it. 

Of course, they also had all the time needed to 
explain things that you were having trouble with. 
There were usually at least 30 children in each 
room and yet each child received all the individual 
attention they needed. 

Homework was an every night chore. It was done 
after supper, in the living room, seated on the pi- 
ano bench and using the closed piano as a desk. 

This too was largely learning by rote. Spelling 
words were written ten times each. Catechism ques- 
tions and answers were repeated over and over until 
they were learned by heart. We had geography and 
history lessons to study. We learned to write in 


156 


First Grade. Printing was considered more an art 
form than something we would need in everyday 1 ife. 

Now I have had the pleasure of watching four of 
my grandchildren attend that same grade school. 
Waht fun it has been to go back to the same class- 
rooms in which I sat, some with the same saint's 
statues still watching over the children, like old 
friends there to welcome me back. Most of the sis- 
ters are gone and lovely young ladies now teach 
the children, who are a great deal bolder than we 
ever dared to be. But in reality very little has 
changed. Every year I attend the same type of 
show, and laugh and applaud to see the children 
showing off their new-found skills. And I know 
just how proud and happy they feel, for I've been 
there before them. 


157 


THE BEGINNING OF A LONG CAREER 
IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 

By Wilma Snyder 
Bryant Elementary School 

Bryant, built in 1891, was the first school built 
in Washington after statehood. High School class- 
es were held for eight years on the third floor, 
district administration offices were on the second 
floor and elementary classes met on the first flo- 
or. The original wooden structure was in use for 
seventy years before it was demolished in 1961 and 
a modern school built. 

Mid-year enrollment was the practice in the Ta- 
coma School District when I entered the first 
grade at Bryant. The school was located at South 
8th and Ainsworth, not too far from my home. Kit- 
ty Bramble was my first teacher. I was only five, 
but I was anxious to be in that place where all 
those great "kids" were. 

Schoolrooms were almost monastic compared to to- 
day's bombardment of learning carrels, reading ma- 
chines, computers, learning kits and reading series 
with multiple components. My first grade room had 
desks for students, a teacher's desk, blackboards, 
chalk, a Beacon Phonetics Chart and enough readers 
for each pupil to have one. Miss Bramble seemed 
as old to me as my parents, but she must have been 
reasonably young. Almost twenty-five years later, 
when I was teaching first grade at Lowell, I was 
asked to give a demonstration with a few of my stu- 
dents, on the use of audio-visual material in the 
classroom. I was demonstrating a very old-fashion- 
ed version of an overhead projector, and Miss Bram- 
ble came to the demonstration. She didn't look any 
older to me than the way I remembered her when she 
was my teacher! 

When a student entered an elementary school, an 
assignment was made to the 1-B, a progression made 


to 1-A, and so it went through all the grades. (I 
had twice as many teachers in elementary school 
than pupils now have.) My other first grade tea- 
cher was Eleanor Murray; second grade, Alice Haw- 
thorne and Inez Howard; third grade, Gladys Peter- 
son and Loretta Hinckley; (Miss Hinckley is still 
living and I had the unusual experience of being a 
co-hostess at her house for a New Year's Eve Party 
since I retired from teaching); fourth grade, 
Frieda Schumacher and Katherine Showalter; fifth 
grade, Elizabeth Hopkins and Myrtle MacLennan. 

(Mrs. MacLennan is still living and I was her ro- 
ommate at a retired teachers' convention in 1979.) 
Marguerite Davy was my teacher for all of the six- 
th grade. 

I liked and respected all my teachers and am 
grateful that somehow in my early years they col- 
lectively made it exciting to learn new things-- 
an interest which I have never lost. 

Our principal was May Hall, a stately woman who 
wore high black-laced shoes and long dresses which 
covered most of her shoes. I was only called to 
her office twice: once with my sister and a nei- 
ghbor girl to reprimand us for telling another 
girl that her pants showed below her dress. (Ac- 
tually, they were made of the same material as her 
dress, and perhaps were supposed to show.) Our ex- 
planation to Miss Hall when she told us that the 
girl had complained, was that a recent lesson a- 
bout George Washington's cherry tree had compelled 
us to tell the truth. She didn't laugh or scold, 
but made us feel that we were capable of making 
more mature judgments about when it was judicious 
to tell the truth. 

My second visit to the office was with Fayetta 
Foote and Mabel Engevick. Mrs. Davy had sent the 
three of us to show the principal how well we had 
learned to tap-dance. In the basement, where we 
learned the dance, we had the music, "Sidewalks of 
New York" to dance to, but in the office we had no 
music. Miss Hall asked me how I could keep such 


159 


good time without any music and I told her that I 
hummed the music to myself as I danced. 

Miss Hall was always in her office, as I remember. 
She never was on the playground to help supervise 
the children during recess. In fact, I don't remem- 
ber any teacher standing around on the playground, 
watching us. We did have supervision in the morn- 
ings when sixth grade students acted as monitors as 
we marched in, en masse, to go to our individual 
rooms. 

Boys and girls had separate playgrounds and sep- 
arate indoor basements for foul weather--we never 
played games together. There were no structured 
P.E. classes except the tap-dancing, and that was 
segregated, probably only for girls. If the weather 
was nice, the girls played hopscotch or jumped rope. 
When a Norwegian girl with beautiful blond braids 
enrolled at Bryant, she taught us her nati ve version 
of hopscotch. I enjoyed walking around with her, 
pointing out various items, pronouncing the word in 
English, and feeling extremely pleased when she 
understood what I was trying to do and responded. 

Christmas programs were the highlight of the scho- 
ol year, especially if you were in the sixth grade. 
After lunch, on the day Christmas vacation started, 
we all marched from room to room to admire decora- 
tions and to see what each class had made for gifts 
to take home. The sixth grade girls, shivering in 
white summer dresses and carrying lighted red can- 
dles, walked through the halls singing carols. Each 
class lined up behind us as we progressed up to the 
third floor auditorium which was not used at any 
other time. The dinner scene from Dickens' "Christ - 
mas Carol " was enacted by sixth graders as part of 
the program and then the boys sang "Oh, Holy Night." 
The order never changed but it was something that 
the students looked forward to as observers, and 
when they were old enough, as participants. 

The walls in the halls of the school were hung 
with large pictures depicting the story of King 


160 


Arthur and Sir Lancelot. Another "plus" when you 
reached the sixth grade was having a tour of our 
private gallery with explanations about the pic- 
tures. Mrs. Davy read us stories about the Knights 
of the Round Table; it was an introduction to what 
now would be considered classical education. 

Another memory of the sixth grade was the requi re- 
ment to learn the last verse of "Thanatopsi s" , a 
poem about death, written by William Cullen Bryant 
for whom the school was named. It has been said 
that the poem was written when he was only 16 
years old. I can recite it, but I looked it up 
for the accuracy of phrasing: 

"So live that when the summons comes to join 
The innumerable caravan, which moves 
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take 
His chamber in the silent hall of death. 

Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night. 
Scourged to his dungeon, but sustained and soothed 
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave 
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch 
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams." 

When I was still in the sixth grade, a music fes- 
tival was held in the spring at Jason Lee Junior 
High. All the other sixth grades in the elemen- 
tary schools in the area learned the same songs, 
and we had a massed chorus singing, "Ah, Sweet 
Mystery of Life", "Songs My Mother Taught Me", and 
"Trees". 


Jason Lee Junior High School 

The school was first known as West Intermediate 
School and was the first and largest of the six 
intermediate schools built in Tacoma. It stood on 
the second site of the campus of the College of 
Puget Sound. Classes started on September 5, 1924. 
It had been built to accommodate 1200 students but 
more than 1600 were enrolled by the end of the 
first year. 


161 


When I enrolled I worried about getting to class 
on time. Stairways were designated "up" and "down" 
and there was the additional hazard of learning 
how to operate combination lockers. Like every- 
body else, I eventually learned how to leave the 
locker "set" close to the last number, which made 
for fast opening if you were in a hurry. 

Boys and girls were still being separated, at 
least in the seventh and eighth grades. On the 
first day of school all new students went to the 
auditorium to hear their roll room assignments. 
Classes were further segregated by ability: one's, 
three's and five's for the girls; two's, four's 
and sixes for boys. Names of the top group were 
read first. It must have been embarrassing to be 
the last to leave the auditorium. 

Ruth Sturley, an English teacher, was my first 
roll room teacher. Other English teachers were 
Elizabeth Scholes, Evelyn Partridge and Frances 
Thompson. Miss Thompson also taught dramatics and 
I was in a play she coached. I played the part of 
a nurse in a doctor's office in a mystery play. 

The part called for a loud scream on my part, and 
I found out how difficult it was to scream if you 
weren't frightened! 

Edith Soper taught general mathematics in the 
eighth grade. She taught us a very practical skill: 
how to make out a check. Maud Graham taught alge- 
bra and Marie Myers taught Greek, Roman History 
and Latin. Elizabeth LaPrad, teacher of American 
History, had a nice, affirmative approach of prais- 
ing her pupils. Evangeline Acheson was my sewing 
teacher in the seventh grade, but she left to take 
a trip to Russia and Martha Mel linger took her 
place. We made ugly, ill-fitting white aprons for 
cooking, a hot pad, a headband, and a towel--and it 
took a whole semester to do it. The second semes- 
ter we made a cotton dress; mine was as ill-fitting 
as the apron! I have often wondered whose idea it 
was for the next required project: a pair of shorts 


162 


(boxer style) trimmed with a border of the material 
matching the dress. I do not think I ever wore 
either of them, but in the process of their making 
I managed to run a sewing machine needle through 
the tip of my finger. 

Cooking was a little better than sewing; Mary 
Walsh and Ruth Hallen guided eighth graders through 
a regimen almost as inconsequential as sewing. We 
never made a whole recipe of anything. When we 
made sponge cake it was baked in a pan that could 
have come from a playhouse set of cookware. We did 
complete one meal and that was a breakfast. The 
class was divided into groups of eight girls who 
had to arrive early, prepare a breakfast, and eat 
it before the first period class. How Mrs. Walsh 
must have tired of the same menu, which was Eggs a 
la Goldenrod! The whites of hardboiled eggs were 
diced into a white sauce--and I do mean white. I 
doubt if there was much butter in it to give it 
either color or flavor. The pale concoction was 
then spread on white toast. To give it color, the 
yolks were pressed through a sieve over the top-- 
for eye appeal. Actually, it had the look of pol- 
len. I have never made nor served Goldenrod Eggs 
since. 

My handwriting was my downfall in the class I 
took from Miss Hallen. My sister and I were cook- 
ing partners and we did most of our cooking on a 
gas burner, one of many running along a cooking 
counter. Our mother had won first prize in a cake- 
baking contest sponsored by the News Tribune and we 
followed her advice one day when we made a tiny 
cake; we put the baking powder in with the last of 
the flour. When the teacher complimented us on the 
light texture of our cake we told her (innocently) 
of our mother's advice. It was not accepted with 
the same spirit with which it was given. I was 
crushed, especially since I had been required to 
get down on my knees and light the gas oven for the 
class that day. I was afraid of the concept of 
holding a match to an open gas line. The teacher 


163 


stood over me, which made me even more nervous, 
and of course, I did something wrong because a 
blue flame leaped out and singed the hair on my 
right arm. I didn't have much hair on my arm but 
I wasn't in favor of losing what I had, besides, 
the odor was similar to that of a singed chicken. 

There were no more catastrophes and we had good 
results in turning out the rest of our doll-sized 
recipes. When I received a 75 in cooking (this 
was when 70 was just a barely passing grade) I 
felt humiliated. My twin sister had received the 
same grade and bolstering each other's courage, 
we decided to go to the teacher and ask for an ex- 
planation. The explanation given was that our 
handwriting in our composition book of recipes, 
which we were required to keep, was not very good. 

I could agree with her about the handwriting (I 
probably got a low grade in penmanship from Miss 
Violet Ahlberg) but I wasn't sure what writing had 
to do with cooking. The grade was not changed, 
and I didn't believe the excuse about the handwrit- 
ing. I have a hunch it was the baking powder bit. 
So much for reasonable grading! 

A dear teacher, Bertha Bailey, whom I always re- 
member smiling, was my art teacher. She was tol- 
erant of my awkward hands in an art project in 
which we were required to cut a design with a ra- 
zor blade out of a piece of construction paper to 
be used as a corner design for a desk blotter. I 
doubt if razor blades are in junior high art rooms 
today. 

My awkward hands which were not an asset in pen- 
manship or artwork gave me trouble in typing also. 
That and an uncontrollable urge to look at the keys 
in order to have nice looking copy, were probably 
adequate reasons for my getting a D in typing. That 
grade I did not contest. 

Marjorie Dammon was the gym instructor and she 
discovered my lack of coordination when it came to 


164 


shooting baskets. However, we had some dance 
classes and those I loved. Maybe it had something 
to do with the rhythm of the music. I wonder if I 
could have done better if we had been allowed to 
shoot baskets to music? 

May Stewart, the manager of the lunchroom, had 
prune whip on the menu from time to time. Most 
items on the lunch were five cents each, and one 
day I spent my fifteen cents on three prune whips 
instead of a more balanced meal. The lunchroom 
was open to the public and it just so happened 
that a friend of the family was eating there that 
day. She observed my three desserts and was the 
kind who would call a kid's mother and tattle. 

That was the end of my buying lynch for awhile. 

A friend, Jane Barnes, who once taught at Jason 
Lee, helped me to recall first names of the Jason 
Lee teachers. She reminded me that Mr. Kepner, 
the principal, was named Frank. "He was a good 
disciplinarian", she said. But ^bout all I remem- 
ber about him was that his girth reminded me of 
Herbert Hoover. 


Jason Lee Pep Song 

Hit the trail for J.L., for J.L. leads today! 

We'll show the boys of our town 

That the Crimson-Cream holds sway. 

We'll do our best again--victory or die! 

So give a grand old cheer, boys. 

As the J.L. flag goes by! 

We sang this song during basketball games. Today 
the word "girls" would probably be sung as well as 
"boys" when appropriate. Students from McCarver 
have told me that Jason Lee was nick-named "Chasin' 
Fleas" by other junior highs. 

Stadium High School 

The elegant French-style chateau building, ori- 
ginally intended for a hotel, was about to be de- 
molished in 1903 when school board members decided 


165 


it would be appropriate for a high school. On 
February 19, Frederick Heath, an architect, took 
an hour to pronounce the feasibility of the plan; 
a special school board meeting was called for 1:30 
a public meeting at 3:00 and by 4:00, an agreement 
was reached to purchase the defunct hotel for thir- 
ty four thousand, five hundred dollars. The first 
bond issue did not pass, but little more than a 
year later, one did pass for two hundred thousand 
dollars. The first classes were opened on Septem- 
ber 10, 1906. The beautiful natural amphi-theater 
carved out of Old Woman's Gulch, was opened as the 
Stadium Bowl in June of 1910. Tacoma is probably 
the only school district in the world which owns 
such a spectacular stadium with an even more spe- 
tacular view. It has brought a lot of publicity 
to Tacoma because of the famous people who spoke 
or performed there. 

High School was not as threatening as Junior High. 

I was used to having a variety of teachers; Junior 
High had prepared me for a change. 

I found myself classifying teachers. Miss Cooper 
who taught English, looked like a heroine from a 
Bronte novel. Her shiny brown hair was done up in 
a demure knot at the back of her head, and she had 
what might have been described as a "patrician" 
nose, slightly pointed, but narrow and delicate. 

Her skin was flawless - if she wore any makeup at 
all, it could have been nothing but a light dusting 
of powder. She smiled often, not a wide smile with 
her teeth showing, but just a tiny turning-up of 
the corners of her mouth. I wasn't always sure 
what she was smiling about, but I felt she was en- 
joying her students. 

Mr. Daniels, another English teacher, taught ad- 
vanced composition. His classroom was in a sort of 
dormer room on the third floor. His class was the 
first I had taken which had as its aim, the purpose 
of developing creative skills. Chemistry, biology, 
geometry, Spanish, shorthand, etc., became to me 


166 


forms of textbook exercises to work your way 
through until the end of the semester. One of 
Mr. Daniels' assignments was to write a conversa- 
tion piece between yourself and His Satanic Majes- 
ty. I chose to make my conversation political. 

One of the nicest compliments I ever received from 
a teacher was given to me by Mr. Daniels the day I 
read that assignment. "If your name was not on 
your paper", he said, "I would know who wrote it. 
You are beginning to develop a style." 

Mr. U.N. Hoffman, who taught journalism, was not 
as appreciative of my style. In his newswriting 
class we were taught the who, when, where, what, 
and why should be in the first paragraph of each 
news story and then enlarged upon in the rest of 
the piece. I continued to write in a feature 
story style, not from obstinacy, but just because 
it was natural. The upshot of it was that while 
getting an A from Mr. Daniels, I got a D from Mr. 
Hoffman. I desperately wanted to be on the Sta- 
dium World staff (the school paper) so I switched 
to an ad-gatherer. My beat was Sixth Avenue and 
my familiarity with the merchants made my job much 
easier. 

Miss Susan Spencer was my geometry teacher and 
she must have known how frightened I would have 
been to have to go to the blackboard to explain a 
theorem because she never called on me to do so. 

I don't know how I deserved the B I got! 

Languages (I took Spanish) were not my forte, 
but I liked Miss Hartman. You never went to her 
class unprepared, and the very first day she began 
giving directions to us in Spanish. 

I took shorthand from Miss Drummond, a very bus- 
iness-like woman with a puffy hair style, which, I 
decided in later years, was probably a wig. She 
complimented students if they dressed in such a way 
that would be appropriate for a business office. 
She made me feel good the day she complimented me 


167 


on a navy blue suit worn with a white pique blouse 
and a bunch of flowers pinned to my jacket lapel. 

I learned a lot of helpful things from Miss Fra- 
ser who taught public speaking--ski 11 s which could 
be used for a lifetime. 

Mrs. Fowler was the Civics teacher and the advi- 
sor for Triple S. I won a prize one year for the 
best dressed doll which I had made to be distri- 
buted with the traditional Elks' Christmas boxes. 

Mr. E.E. Perkins was the principal, and Howard 
Carr the vice-principal. My twin sister and I had 
been flower girls for Mr. Carr when he married Mar- 
jorie Hal lam, a friend of our parents. 

The things which have been of value to me through- 
out my life were not so much what was learned in 
the classroom, but what I acquired in outside ac- 
tivities. Debate, dramatics. Triple S activities, 
and being co-chairman of a Girl's Club candy sale 
with my twin sister, offered opportunities for lea- 
dership and responsibilities outside of preparing 
daily assignments. 

There was one teacher for whom I felt extreme 
sympathy and that was Mr. Butrick, who had charge 
of the downstairs study hall. How dull that assign- 
ment must have been! One year when I was on the 
honor roll, I was excused from 6th period study 
hall. I had a cousin who had left the Texas dust 
bowl and come to live with us. His first job was 
as a doorman at the Roxy Theater. He would let me 
in free to go see the movie, and the next day I 
would sit in study hall for my twin while she went 
to the show. It evidently didn't matter who was in 
the assigned seat, just so it was occupied. I do 
not remember Mr. Butrick ever smiling. 

Stadium, because of its unusual architecture, its 
nearby bowl, and its historical background, holds a 
special place in the hearts of all Tacomans. 


168 






SPOT A GON ON THE WYE 

By Robert Doubleday 

My first real job was with the Chicago, Milwau- 
kee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad in the old pas- 
senger depot at South 25th and A Street. I had 
worked at cutting firewood, picking fruit, feeding 
a printing press in my father's shop and other as- 
sorted tasks but these I didn't consider much more 
than putting in time. They were not something to 
brag about to one's friends. 

I had been attending Lyle Lemley's Tacoma Secre- 
tarial School in the Medical Arts Building and had 
about soaked up all the lore that the staff could 
pound into my head when, in August 1 936 , Mary Etta 
Peirson, the employment person for the school , found 
a job for me as the secretary to the chief dispat- 
cher of the Milwaukee Road. In those days male 
stenographers were more commonly used in industry 
than they are today. Apparently there was a feel- 
ing at the time that ladies just didn't fit in cer- 
tain kinds of offices. 

The dispatcher's office, as well as those of other 
Pacific Division officials, was on the second floor 
of the modest, frame building which was the passen- 
ger station at the western terminus of the Mi Iwaukee 
main line. It was a small, two-story structure, 
built by the Tacoma Eastern Railway in 1906 to re- 
place its original station, erected in 1902 and la- 
ter destroyed by fire. The station became the pro- 
perty cf the Milwaukee when it acquired, in 1909, 
the real estate and equipment of the Tacoma Eastern. 
Travelers from the east arriving on the Milwaukee's 
crack train, the Olympian, must have been somewhat 
dismayed to find themselves deboarding at that shab- 
by frame structure. They may have thought they had 
gotten off in the wrong town after having heard and 
read about the wonders of Tacoma and Puget Sound. 

For many years the Chamber of Commerce, as well, I 


169 


suspect, as other influential locals, had been 
urging the Milwaukee to abandon that poor old 
building and move into the Union Depot. Milwaukee 
management demurred, however, citing all kinds of 
reasons for declining the kind invitation. Pride, 

I suspect, had something to do with it, maybe more 
than anything else. At any rate, the Milwaukee 
continued to use the old station until 1954 when 
it opened its new passenger terminal on company- 
owned property on the ti deflats, underneath what 
was known as the Milwaukee viaduct. Not the most 
attractive site in town. 

Incidentally, it might be well to point out that 
this was the Milwaukee "Railroad," a distinction 
which seemed very important to its officials and 
employees. The Great Northern, Northern Pacific 
and Union Pacific lines, used the word "railway" 
in their company titles and Milwaukeeans (if this 
is an appropriate term) liked to equate this to 
street railway systems - a denigrating comparison. 

I approached my new job with minimal, but ade- 
quate skills; however, I was burdened with a load 
of business college lingo which may have been em- 
ployed elsewhere in the world of commerce but was 
not to be found in the railroad industry. Railroad- 
ers, I learned quickly, have an esoteric language 
which is sensible to them but has no meaning what- 
ever to others. As a result, my first day on the 
job was a confusing one. For example, the chief 
dispatcher dictated to me a message, which I was to 
transcribe, addressed to the agent at Chehalis. It 
ran something like this: "Number 27 has a drawbar 
down and a hotbox. Spot a gon on the Wye." That 
may not be the exact wording - fifty years have ta- 
ken their toll on my memory - but it is close enough 
to give you a general idea of what I was up against. 

There were five of us in the dispatcher's office: 
the chief dispatcher, mainline dispatcher, two 
branch-line dispatchers, and myself, the secretary. 
The chief, Tom Corbett, had a very demanding job; he 


170 


was on call for just about twenty- four hours a day. 

A nervous, chain-smoking man who had stomach trou- 
ble understandably, and indulged in occasional 
shouting matches; he was uncommonly kind, tolerant 
and patient with me. Why, I don't know. I tried 
very hard to please him. Maybe he sensed that. 
Anyway, we got along just dandy. When he learned 
that I knew nothing of "rai 1 roadese" he would ex- 
plain to me, after he had dictated some gibberish, 
just what that nonsense would mean to the recipi- 
ent. And then it made sense. Just barely. 

The mainline dispatcher sat in a private, glass- 
enclosed space. He had the only voice-communica- 
tion system in the office, other than the telephone. 
It consisted of a rather crude microphone and spea- 
ker arrangement with which, after much shouting, 
he could contact the stations on the coast di vi sion 
of the main line. Since he was the only one to 
sit in a private office, made necessary because of 
his microphone-speaker system, he may have been im- 
pressed with the august nature of his job. He did- 
n't associate much with the branch line dispatchers 
nor, of course, with me. He was an ardent Republi- 
can and wore an Alf Landon sunflower button all 
that summer before the election. 

The branch-line dispatchers sat at desks facing 
each other, perhaps six or eight feet apart, and 
to the best of my recollection, never spoke a word 
to each other. Elmer, I've forgotten his last 
name, always wore a green eyeshade, a vest and 
black cuff protectors. The other branch-line dis- 
patcher, Michael John O'Connor, was a stout man, 
not very tall. He dressed well and sported an im- 
pressive Stetson hat which I never saw removed from 
his head. He reported for work with it on and left 
at the end of the day with that Stetson in the same 
place. When he came into the office he would re- 
move his suit coat and exchange it for a cardigan 
sweater that was on a hanger suspended from a nail 
in the post behind his desk. Mike was not a "brown 
bagger". He always disappeared during the lunch 


171 


hour. Later on I found one of his haunts. He and 
Corbett seemed to enjoy the sort of mutual respect 
that didn't call for any unnecessary conversation. 
They had their jobs to do and they did them very 
well, I expect. Like Corbett, Mike was very help- 
ful to me, the greenhorn. He coached me in rail- 
road language and customs. 

Since this was the headquarters office for the 
Milwaukee, modest though it was, there were occa- 
sional visits from other company officials, the 
yardmaster, trainmaster, to name a couple, and the 
switchboard operator, a lady named Rose, for whom 
everyone seemed to have great affection, would en- 
ter our office occasionally when she could get a- 
way from her post. 

There was usually quite a stir going on in the 
dispatcher's office, not surprising since these 
men were guiding the movements of all the Milwau- 
kee trains operating west of the division point in 
Deer Lodge, Montana. There was the constant clack- 
ing of the telegraph keys of the branch- line men; 
the raised voice of the main line dispatcher could 
be heard from behind his glass cage and the chief 
was on the telephone much of the time, issuing in- 
structions affecting the shipment of freight and 
the coordination of passenger traffic. One of the 
concerns that usually raised blood pressures was 
the swift passage of the "silk train" to its des- 
tination. The cargo was raw silk that had been 
transferred from a ship from the Orient and off- 
loaded to Milwaukee cars. The nature of the stuff 
demanded that it reach its eastern destination with 
all speed. This required some rather complicated 
manipulations on the part of the dispatchers and 
frequently brought on disquieting moments and no 
small amount of agonizing. 

The Milwaukee's premium train, the Olympian-Hia- 
watha, arrived from its eastern points at 9 : 30 a.m. 
daily except when some untoward event interfered. 

On those days when the train was late it would lay 


172 


over on the passenger station track until about 
noon when I would take my brown bag along and go 
aboard to view the splendors of the first class 
section and to daydream about the time when per- 
haps I could abandon in such luxury. It was a 
splendid train and many years later I had the good 
fortune to ride in those cars from St. Paul to Chi- 
cago. My daydreams were not in vain. 

Railroads are accustomed to operating on sched- 
ule. Apparently the schedule required that the 
passenger station, including the dispatcher's of- 
fice, be painted in August. It may have been the 
hottest August of record and very few of the win- 
dows in that old building could be opened. They 
had been painted shut years before. Railroad paint 
smells like no other I have ever come across, ex- 
cept perhaps battleship paint. In those days I be- 
lieve railroad painters manufactured their own con- 
coctions and they managed to incorporate some in- 
gredients that were guaranteed to wring tears from 
the eyes of a cast-iron statue. We had some very 
unpleasant days that August of 1936 in that old 
building with the windows closed and the painters 
crawling all over the place. 

I would happily have gone on with Corbett, O'Con- 
nor and company except for the mysterious workings 
of railroad employment practices. I had no senior- 
ity date - I was a temporary employee. A chap in 
the office in Othello, Washington, who did have 
seniority, applied for the job I held so I was 
"bumped". I'm not at all surprised that he wanted 
to get away from Othello, particularly in August. 
You may have seen Othello today, fifty years later, 
after the coming of the Columbia Irrigation Project 
it looks like an oasis. But it isn't too hard to 
imagine what it may have been like in 1936. 

Corbett was nice enough to say that he would have 
liked to keep me on but the system would not per- 
mit this. On my last day Mike O'Connor took me to 
lunch at the Snappy Service Restaurant, one of his 


173 


favorites, at 2315 Pacific Avenue, not far from 
the depot. I had a hamburger. 


174 


THE RUSSIANS PAID IN CASH? 

By Phyl 1 i s Kai ser 

My first job interview! It was January, 1945. I 
gingerly walked across Tacoma's downtown streets 
in the direction of Dock Street. The sounds of the 
city surrounded me; car motors raced, impatient 
motorists beeped horns, delivery trucks rumbled on 
to their next stop, a boat horn tooted in the dis- 
tance. The day was crisp with a gentle breeze 
moving massive white clouds slowly across the sun 1 s 
face, an occasional ray beaming down to brighten 
my route. I wondered what Fred Dravis, owner of 
Dravis Engineering and Machine Works, would be 
like. I was nervous! In training nothing was dis- 
cussed about conduct and expectations during a job 
interview. I felt unprepared. 

Initial plans at Knapp Business College, then 
located at 8th and Pacific Avenue, had been to 
study accounting along with secretarial skills and 
at some time to become a Certified Publ ic Account- 
ant. Tuition was $25 a month and one could attend 
any number of classes offered. Enrollment was low 
because of the war and students attended classes 
for an average of three months before finding work. 
Jobs were plentiful at Seattl e-Tacoma Shipbuilding 
Corporation in Tacoma. I completed all the avail- 
able classes and then found I was the only student 
in Corporate Accounting. In short time, I too de- 
cided to find a job. 

I approached 11th and A Street, walked down the 
concrete steps alongside the Perkins Building, and 
to the ramp under the 11th Street Bridge. The wo- 
oden car ramp, approached from Cliff Street, cir- 
cled under the bridge to Dock Street below. I walk- 
ed beside the ramp to a long flight of wooden steps. 
Cars driving past vibrated the heavy wooden planks 
of the ramp; the hollow sound of the "bump-bump- 
bump" echoing under the bridge made me move faster. 
At the foot of the steps I stopped to catch my 


175 


breath and look aroun d. I had never been on Dock 
Street before. A fishing boat tied to the dock 
was apparently having maintenance work done by the 
men climbing around from bow to stern. Rows of 
railroad tracks, shining from lots of use, were 
on the west side of the street. Large wood frame 
buildings lined the water's edge and fronted Dock 
Street. The first building I came to had "Dravis 
Engineering and Machine Works, 1101 Dock Street" 
painted across the upper front. 

Fred Dravis was a short, bouncy, jovial man; the 
type of person one would feel at ease with. I be- 
lieve his pipe and grey hat were a part of him; he 
was never without either. The pipe was perpetual- 
ly packed with tobacco, lit and relit, puffed un- 
til the tobacco burned down, then scraped clean 
and the procedure repeated. I was hired! I won- 
dered if I had been the only applicant for the 
job. My salary would be $160 a month with a two 
week paid vacation after a year. Hours would be 
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
with one hour for lunch. I was pleased! I would 
have a monthly paycheck! 

Shopping was foremost in my mind when I received 
my first paycheck. Prior to that first payday I 
had spent quite a few lunch hours window shopping 
in town. I carried a brown bag lunch to work ev- 
ery day, usually eating at my desk. To make the 
most of a lunch hour for shopping, I gulped my 
sandwich as I hurried to the shopping district. 

The first purchase from my first paycheck was a 
sterling silver compact for face powder; something 
I seldom used. I am saving the compact as a memen- 
to of a foolish purchase which cost me about $40. 
All my succeeding purchases were more practical. 

The offices were in the northwest corner of the 
building and comprised three small rooms. The 
front door opened into the reception area beside a 
long counter. My desk was behind the counter, fac- 
ing the windows with a fold-away oak typewriter 


176 


desk directly behind my tilt- type swivel chair. 

The chair was designed more for an executive who 
could lean back and prop his feet on the desk than 
for a typist. Gilbert Clinton, the superintendent, 
occupied the next office with his files, drafting 
materials, blueprints and a small desk. Fred Dra- 
vis' office was at the corner of the building, 
the largest and nicest but the least used; he was 
more often out on business. The office machines 
were limited to an Underwood typewriter and a man- 
ually operated, non-electric, adding machine, set 
on a high metal stand. One could surmise the ma- 
chines had been a part of the company for many 
years. 

The office was a one-girl operation. I was re- 
ceptionist, stenographer, secretary, bookkeeper, 
accountant, payroll clerk, and of course, errand 
girl. The company had wartime contracts for work- 
ing on United States and foreign merchant ships 
docking at the Port of Tacoma, and occasionally, 
Seattle, in addition to regular machinery and fish- 
boat repairs. Work performed on the merchant ships 
consisted of repairs to engines, winches, pumps, 
gauges, piping, bilge cleaning, and bul khead paint- 
ing. Large crews of part-time workers would be 
called in from a hiring hall in town to finish the 
work quickly. 

Paperwork to accompany billing on the merchant 
ships was voluminous. The United States govern- 
ment required twenty copies of all papers; however, 
foreign governments required only half that amount. 
The typewriter was from an age of sturdy machines 
and held up well. No copy machine was available. 

I pounded the typewriter extra hard to make an 
original with nine tissue copies. It was worth the 
effort and the last copy was readable. Strength, 
speed and accuracy were important. I didn't like 
erasing errors on ten pages, or worse yet, retyp- 
ing the whole page. The average work orders con- 
sisted of four 8 x 13 pages; resulting in a size- 
able stack of papers to mail out for billing. 


177 


Foreign officials, with heavy accents, would 
sometimes dictate lengthy work orders over the 
telephone for me to take in shorthand and type. 
Gilbert would listen on his phone to help me if I 
couldn't understand. Most astounding was the way 
Russian officials paid bills. They were prompt 
and paid in cash. The first time a Russian came 
into the office, placed his briefcase on the coun- 
ter, and handed me bundles of U.S. "greenbacks" 
totalling thousands of dollars, I gasped! Gilbert 
stood back chuckling, later telling me, "I forgot 
to tell you, the Russians always pay in cash." I 
would have been more comfortable with an escort to 
the bank. A thousand dollars then would be equi- 
valent to many thousands now; a lot of money to 
be responsible for. No one else seemed concerned. 

I stuffed the bundles in my expandable, hand-cro- 
cheted black bag and hurriedly started for the bank. 

I walked along Dock Street, up the wooden steps 
and under the bridge, glancing cautiously from 
side to side as I clutched the bulging bag tightly 
in front of me. I was relieved to reach the bank 
and deposit the money. On the third occasion of a 
Russian cash payment, Fred Dravis thought maybe 
luck was pushed a little far and arranged a driver 
for me. 

On August 14, 1945, Gilbert returned from town, 
eyes sparkling and wearing a smile that measured 
ear to ear. "The war is over", he said. "People in 
town are so happy they're dancing in the streets!" 
He opened the door so I could hear the horns blow- 
ing, the noise driving home the reality of some- 
thing we all had prayed for. I too was smiling, 
ear to ear. 

The war had ended and work on the merchant ships 
ceased. The company was back to pre-war work; ma- 
chine work and fishing boat repairs. My work went 
from one extreme to the other; from too much work 
to not enough work. I became extremely bored. I 
passed time looking out the window, watching trains 
pass by, some with hobos standing in empty boxcar 


178 


doorways; counted boxcars and read their markings; 
watched the rodent control man walk to located 
traps and remove the rodent to put in a bag for 
later analysis. When my Aunt Lea asked me to join 
her on a two month vacation to California in the 
summer of 1946 I couldn't resist the invitation. 
Fred Dravis consented only if I found someone to 
take my place. I trained Bea Rayno, a friend who 
was on summer vacation from the College of Puget 
Sound. The arrangement was ideal for both of us. 

After returning from vacation the work remained 
minimal. I felt stagnated and within a short time 
informed Fred Dravis I would be leaving. During 
my employment at Dravis Engineering I had gained 
valuable experience and self-confidence in my work. 
From there I went on to employment at the office 
of St. Regis Pulp and Paper Company. 


179 


I MADE A JOB OF MY OWN 
AT STADIUM HIGH 

By Wesla MacArthur 

How to Find a Job" was not one of the subjects 
I'd been exposed to in High School. My chances of 
finding a summer job in 1932 when I had no experi- 
ence of any kind — not even as a babysitter — seemed 
to me very slim. However, I was determined to try. 
The school secretary at Stadium High said there 
might be a part-time summer job available in the 
school office if I'd be willing to work only to 
gain experience- riot money. From the viewpoint of 
the school officials, my salary was right, so I qot 
the job. 

During the endless hours of uninspiring filing, 

I had to do something to keep awake. The closest 
thing to think about was those stacks of cards and 
how much easier filing would be if they were more 
legible. 

Over sandwiches at noon, I asked Miss Larsen, the 
attendance clerk, just how those cards were made 
out. She explained. "Every teacher has a home 
room class. A card for each member of that home 
room is given to each teacher. The teacher writes 
the name of the student on a card and his daily 
schedule of classes. Each teacher fills in the 
grades of his/her subject; history, English, etc., 
then the cards finally go back to the home rooms. 
The home room teacher must then check each card to 
see if any spaces have been skipped. Assuming that 
all is well, the home room teachers turn the cards 
in to the school office for filing. By the time 
I'd absorbed this explanation, I was as confused as 
the teachers probably were. Those poor 1 ittle cards, 
tired from their journeys, were what I was filing. 

"What would happen," I thought, "If someone typed 
out those cards, filling in everything except the 
grades?" Having most of the tedious handwriting 


180 


typed, the teachers would have many hours freed to 
do better teaching. They would still be responsi- 
ble for proof-reading the cards and determining 
that there was one for each student. Another ben- 
efit would be that filing the cards would be sim- 
pler since they'd be more legible. 

In those by-gone days, it did not take an Act of 
Congress to start your own business. I talked with 
the principal. "What will you charge?" he asked. 

I remember very clearly gulping a little as I sug- 
gested one penny per card. He seemed to think that 
was quite fair and authorized me to talk with any 
of the teachers to see if they'd like such a ser- 
vice at such a price. Most of the teachers thought 
the idea a good one and the price dirt-cheap. 

That job lasted for my senior year and provided 
more spending money than I'd ever had in my life! 
Years later, I discovered that my 1 i ttle enterpri se 
had opened up a full-time job for at least one more 
person in the office of some schools in District 10. 
I always feel a warm glow deep inside when remem- 
bering that very first job. 


181 


ELECTRIFYING JOB IN THE THIRTIES 

By Eunice Huffman 

My father owned Midget Water Heater and Special- 
ty Company, which was originally located in the 
basement of a building at 34th and Pacific Avenue. 
When in Lincoln High School I was always interested 
in accounting courses, so my father allowed me to 
work in his office after school and on Saturday. 

My wage was 25<t an hour and I felt lucky to have 
such an allowance. 

When I graduated from high school in January, 
1933, there were few jobs available for teenagers 
so I continued to work for my father while diligent- 
ly looking for another position. I also took civil 
service tests when they were offered. During the 
summers I worked in food canneries in Puyallup and 
Sumner. 

My opportunity finally came in 1935 when a custo- 
mer at our shop, Don Demick, asked me if I'd be in- 
terested in working as a secretary for him at Home 
Electric Company, located at 1316 "A" Street. I 
accepted gladly and was very excited about starting 
a new job. I was to replace a girl who had been 
doing the job for 16 years but was going to a new 
position for higher wages. 

Home electric originally was at 934 Commerce 
Street but in 1920 moved to the "A" street address. 
It was a wholesale house that carried hundreds of 
items pertaining to electrical needs and Mr. Demick 
was the buyer for the company which was owned by 
William S. Anderson. 

The office was divided into three glassed sections: 
Mr. Demick, Tom Miller, the inside salesman, and I 
occupied one side of the building, each in our own 
section. Mr. Anderson and the salesmen had their 
offices in the middle area and three women handled 


182 


the accounts and other secretarial work in offices 
on the far side of the building. 

My main duty was to maintain the entire inven- 
tory by item and price. Every item that came in 
or left the company was recorded by hand on a card 
index. All accounts receivable invoices were pric- 
ed by me before going to the billing department. I 
also did correspondence for Mr. Demick and talked 
with salesmen when he was out of the office. 

There was one of our salesmen who was very long- 
winded in his dictation so none of the secretaries 
wished to handle his correspondence. I was lucky 
because Mr. Demick did not like to dictate and 
would make notes in the margins of any letters to 
be answered and I would compose the letter. Occa- 
sionally the other girls would send "Windy" to me, 
claiming they were too busy to take dictation. I 
sat through his long dictation and then transcrib- 
ed the letter in shortened form as it should be 
written. 

The work day began with my leaving home by street- 
car to 13th and Pacific Avenues. Carfare was 10<t 
a ride or three tokens for 25 <t. From there I walk- 
ed to the office, hopefully arriving before 8 a.m. . 
Lunch hour was from 12:00 to 1:00 a.m. Patricia Spo- 
larik, one of the other secretaries, and I would 
"brown bag" our lunch and walk to the Olympic Dai- 
ry Ice Cream Parlor on 11th and Court "C" across 
the alley from the second floor of Rhodes Depart- 
ment Store. There we purchased a quart of milk 
for 1 0<t and shared it. We alternated our day to 
purchase. Five o'clock was quitting time Monday 
through Friday and noon on Saturday. 

Payday was the first and fifteenth of the month 
and I was shocked when I received my first pay- 
check covering a two week pay period, and it was 
$27.50. I had replaced and was fulfilling the du- 
ties of the former girl who had earned $90 a month. 

I discussed the matter with Mr. Demick and he sug- 
guested that I speak with Mr. Anderson, which I did. 


183 


After a bit of conversation we agreed on a $10.00 
raise to $65.00 a month. I married Frank Whylie 
in November 1936 and he did not want me to work 
but I had agreed with Mr. Anderson that I would 
stay until the yearly inventory was completed. It 
was completed in February 1937 and I departed as 
a $75.00 a month worker. Actually I had received 
a $10.00 raise January 1, but that was only for 
one month. 

One time before I left I answered the phone and 
a gentleman asked for another person in the office. 
Before I got the call transferred I momentarily 
fell asleep and when I wakened I did not know who 
was on the line! I politely asked the person who 
he wished to speak to, explaining that the line 
had been disconnected. He said that he wondered 
what had happened and we both laughed and I put 
his call through. I was glad no one knew what had 
really happened! 


184 


BERRY PICKING IN PUYALLUP 

By Mary Olson 

When Mother's voice came intruding into my dreams 
I snuggled down farther under the covers and pul- 
led them over my head. As I opened my eyes the 
room looked ghostly and cold in the pre-dawn light 
and I definitely didn't want to get up. There was 
never any heat in the bedrooms and I knew that 
once I put my feet out of bed and onto that cold 
floor all chance of getting more sleep was past. 

Mother called again. Well, there was no getting 
out of it. I grabbed my underwear, overalls and 
sweatshirt and made a rush for the stairs. Once 
down the stairs and along the hall, I opened the 
door to the kitchen and was immediately enfolded 
in the warmth of the old wood stove. Johnny not 
being around to claim it, I got the oven door and 
proceeded to sit on it while I put on my undershirt, 
fitting my garter belt over my shoulders, then pul- 
ling on my long cotton stockings I fastened them to 
the garters, then into Johnny's hand-me-down over- 
alls and the white sweatshirt that he had outgrown. 

"Mr. Aikins won't wait if you're late," my mother 
said, as she ladled out my mush and poured creamy 
milk over it. At ten I was old enough to know it 
did no good to try to argue with Mother, so I just 
headed out the back door to the outhouse and then 
back in for a quick wash-up at the sink in the pan- 
try, before sitting down at the kitchen table to 
eat my mush and the thick homemade toast spread 
with Mother's good blackberry jam. 

A quick kiss from Mother and, of course, words of 
admonition from her to be good and mind Mrs. Aikins 
and I was out the front door, grabbing my jacket 
from it's hook in the front hall as I went. 

When I arrived at Connie's house, Mrs. Aikins was 
just clearing up the breakfast dishes and Connie and 


185 


I lost no time in getting out the back door and 
into the back of the pick-up. No sense in taking 
chances of having to help put the dishes away! 

Beulah Aikins, Connie's mother, and Buddy, her 
little brother, got to sit up front with her dad, 
Roy Aikins, but Connie and I had to sit on the 
blankets in the bed of the truck and it was cold. 

We tried to arrange ourselves in the blankets so 
that we were cushioned by them from the cold of 
the truck but still had some blanket left to cov- 
er up with. I never got over the thrill of rid- 
ing in the back of the truck, or of riding in any 
car, for that matter. I thought it was as much 
fun as a ride at the Western Washington Fair. 

Soon we were on the road heading down Park Ave- 
nue towards 72nd. We went down 72nd to Canyon 
Road and then felt that we were really out in the 
country. The road cut through a forest of fir 
trees, which fenced the road on either side. Wild 
flowers along the edge of the woods were heavy 
with dew. It was chilly in the back of the old 
Model A pick-up as it shook and rattled its way 
toward the Valley, and Connie and I scrunched 
down under the blankets to keep warm, but our no- 
ses were always up over the edge of the truck so 
we could see what was going on around us. 

It was just past dawn and the fog drifted through 
the woods and covered the Valley below with alight 
mist as we descended the last winding hill to the 
clatter of the old truck and the wail of the train 
that cut through the Puyallup Valley every morning. 
The train sent a plume of smoke out behind it and 
always filled me with a longing for a ride to far 
away places. 

We made this trip every morning during the berry 
season. I was lucky that Mr. and Mrs. Aikins would 
let me go along as it was the only way I could earn 
money for my school clothes. We would pick all 
through the season, but always missed out on the 


186 


bonus because we would have to go back to school 
before the last of the berries were picked. 

When we reached the Valley we went past the white 
buildings and red roofs of the Washington State 
Experimental Farm. We were in awe of the people 
who worked there. Our folks talked of the marvel- 
ous experiments that were carried out there. The 
work at the Experimental Farm was helpful to the 
Puyallup Valley farmers. We were sure that inside 
those buildings scientists were doing amazing things 
to fruits and vegetables and growing new cows that 
would give just oceans of milk. 

At last we arrived at the berry farm where we 
were to pick. Connie and I piled out of the truck 
and ran to get our stand with the berry baskets on 
it. We looked for a "good row," one that had lots 
of berries showing. We filled our baskets as fast 
as we could, running a race with each other to see 
who could get her flat filled first and take it to 
the shed to get our tickets punched. Mrs. Aikins 
and Buddy were never far away, so we didn't dare 
fool around too much. 

The leaves of the raspberry plants were full of 
fog and dew and we were soon wet and our feet and 
knees were muddy from crawling under the bushes to 
get at the berries that were hidden. The rows had 
to be picked clean or we'd be in trouble with the 
lady who ran the field. Kids that didn't pick 
clean weren't allowed to come again. The fieldwas 
steaming now in the heat of the sun. As the rows 
dried, the area between them grew dusty and by noon 
we were really a dirty mess. 

Finally, Mrs. Aikins called us to lunch and we 
were more than happy to bring in our baskets. We 
went to the truck and sat on the running board to 
eat our jam sandwiches and drink the cold, clear 
water that we had gotten at the pipe on the edge of 
the field. 

After lunch we wandered over the farm, wondering 


187 


what it would be like to live in such a grand hou- 
se and to have horses to ride. We went down to 
the edge of the river and dangled our feet in the 
cold water and talked about anything and every- 
thing. I envied Connie because she was little and 
dainty. Her parents were young while mine were 
old. Her mother even wore lipstick and smoked, 
which in my eyes, made her a woman to be admired! 
She had a little brother whom she could order a- 
bout, while I had two big brothers who did their 
best to make my life miserable. Oh, Connie was 
much to be envied! 

All too soon Mrs. Aikins called to us and we went 
back to the rows of berries. The lady in charge 
of the pickers told us we would have to pick over 
some of the rows that had been picked the day be- 
fore. Darn! That meant that we wouldn't get as 
many flats picked that afternoon. 

Connie and I always picked on opposite sides of 
the same row and were considered good pickers, but 
being kids, sometimes our hands would meet as we 
grabbed for the berries and then we would giggle 
and maybe even play a bit. Sometimes it's hard to 
just pick berries and not have any fun. 

We always quit work by supper time. The pickers 
who stayed there on the farm would pick until dark. 
So, it was back into the old pick-up again and back 
home in time for supper. We crawled in under the 
blankets and speculated on how much money we had 
made and what kind of dresses we would be allowed 
to buy. 

Home again and back in the warm kitchen, I would 
dream of living on a farm in the valley, riding 
horses every day, showing off for all the lesser 
people who would work for me. My daydreams weren't 
very practical, but then when you're nine, you can 
dream of anything and think that it has a chance to 
come true. 


188 


IT'S THE BERRIES 

By Jack Sundquist 

Whenever I see a box of raspberries I feel a lit- 
tle twinge of sympathy. I picked raspberries once 
when I was a child. I hated every minute of it. 

In the late 20' s and early 30' s we used to pick 
berries every summer. First we picked for Andy 
Holt in Milton, in 1929. We stayed in an old log 
cabin he had on a hill in back of his house. Mama 
would sew some sheets together, stuff them with 
straw and put them on the floor in one of the rooms. 
Then she put blankets and quilts on top. We all 
slept there together: Mama; Papa; sisters Lillian, 
Ivedell, Anita; Elmer and me. Mama would get up and 
make a fire in the wood stove and make breakfast 
for Papa so he could drive into work at the St. 

Paul Mill, then she would make breakfast for four- 
year-old Anita, seven-year-old Jack, ten-year-old 
Ivedell, 13-year-old Lillian and 18-year-old Elmer. 
Elmer would ride in with Papa since he worked at 
McCormick Brothers Department Store. After wash- 
ing the dishes, Mama would herd her brood out to 
the berry fields. In the early morning the bushes 
were dew-specked and your hands would get wet as 
they reached for the berries hiding under the 
leaves. We carried worn wooden carriers which held 
six boxes. Some carriers had legs which allowed 
the picker to remain fairly upright. One had to 
brush the leaves upward to be sure to find all of 
the berries. As the berries filled the box and 
lost their crispness, they would collapse slowly 
and the box would have to be filled again. When 
filled the carriers were taken to the central sta- 
tion, usually a rough table-like affair with a 
small roof. Here the owner or boss would check over 
the boxes for fullness and cleanliness. Each picker 
had a card about three by five inches with numbers 
around the outside. The boss would punch an appro- 
priate number, take out the boxes and put them in a 
crate and the picker would put new empty boxes in 


189 


his carrier. This went on and on and on and on un- 
til lunch and then dinner. Some pickers were fast 
and others slow. I believe that 40 cents a crate 
was the rate in 1930. A good picker could pick 
four or five crates a day. 

My sister Ivedell was the best picker of the chil- 
dren. Ivy worked like a beaver. Lillian kept up a 
steady pace, Anita played between the rows near Ma- 
ma. And Mama, Mama toiled dil igently, always cheer- 
ful , thinking about lunch that had to be prepared, 
and dinner, and washing clothes. I was the worst 
picker. I would pick for awhile and then began to 
imagine that the rows were hiding Indians that had 
to be held off, or that I had to protect Mama from 
robbers in Sherwood Forest. 

My output was pitifully small and at the end of 
the day I demanded my 20 or 30 cents and spent it 
at the nearby store. Ivedell hoarded her money, 
dreams of new dresses in her head. 

As the sun climbed in the sky the leaves dried 
and dust would spurt up from the clods between the 
rows. One person picked on each side of the row. 
Mama and I would pick together and she would always 
get ahead of me even though she had to watch Anita 
also. So she would reach the end of the row and 
then come down on my side to help me finish. The 
bushes always seemed to be smaller and thinner at 
the end of the rows. Ending a row was often a rea- 
son to get a drink of water or make a trip to the 
weather-beaten outhouse on the edge of the field. 

I found many opportunities to take a break from the 
hot sun but when I returned the raspberries would 
have sagged in their boxes and I would have to fill 
them again. When I turned in the boxes the boss 
would look at them quizzically, perhaps take one 
box and use it to fill the others to the overflow- 
ing aspect he desired, and hand the empty box back 
to me with the short, "Better fill this up again." 

Near lunch time, when Mama had filled a carrier 
she would check it in and with Anita trailing behind 


190 


would head uphill to the log cabin and prepare lunch 
of sandwiches and milk as we children rested. Ma- 
ma was always so efficient; once she had cooked 
for 40 men in a dredging crew in northern Minneso- 
ta when she was 17. In the afternoons Mama would 
lead us back down the hill to the waiting rows of 
raspberries. Afternoons were hotter and I worked 
more slowly and sought the shady sides of the 
rows. Ivy picked with her usual speed and Lillian 
more slowly, but doggedly. Sometimes Mama would 
spread a piece of old quilt on the ground and Ani- 
ta would nap there, curled up in the sun. Mama, 
with a straw hat on her head, would pick and pick; 
encouraging us, sometimes singing a snatch of song 
and keeping an eye on Anita as she planned the 
coming supper. 

When the end of the day came Ivy would have the 
most punches. Mama next, Lillian third and I a 
distant and dismal last. Mama would take a now 
very tired and bedraggled Anita and head back for 
the cabin to begin supper. Papa and Elmer would 
be returning from work and Papa expected a hot 
meal on the table with meat and potatoes and gravy 
even on the hottest day of summer. So Mama sweat- 
ed over the hot stove, which gave off extra heat. 
We sat at the table discoursing on our day as we 
loaded our plates and consumed our food. After 
dinner it was wash the dishes. When Mama washed 
clothes I can't remember. She had a washboard and 
a tub and heated water on the stove. Papa wanted 
to buy her a washing machine but she did not think 
they washed as cleanly as hand work. 

We picked raspberries with their tiny slender 
black bugs crawling in them; blackcaps, which were 
a combination berry; loganberries; and later pie 
cherries for a Mr. Brandt in north Puyallup. Ive- 
dell became a real tornado when it came to Straw- 
berries but I never did develop an affection for 
field work. Even now, when I see a box of rasp- 
berries, I think of standing in the hot sun with 
Mama on the other side of the row and singing 
through the green leaves of the bushes. 


191 


HANDYMAN AT VIRGES DRUG 

By Jack Sundquist 


In January of 1940 I graduated from Stadium High 
School and looked around the job market but there 
wasn't any. It was the end of the Great Depres- 
sion of 1929 and jobs were scarce indeed. I had 
had many temporary jobs: mowing lawns, picking 
berries, finding unwanted milk bottles, selling 
magazines, and delivering papers. But, having 
reached that point in my life when school no long- 
er was necessary, according to law, I saw the doors 
of opportunity swing wide. 

My first job was as a general helper, sweeper, 
and delivery boy for the Virges Drug Stores of Ta- 
coma. There were three stores; one was on Broad- 
way near 11th, a second on Pacific between 9th and 
10th, and a third on Pacific between 10th and 11th. 

I was to sweep all the stores, help stock the 
shelves, and act as a deliveryman and messenger. 

For this I received $2 a day which I spent with 
wild abandon, on wine, women and Baby Ruth candy 
bars! I was living at home and Mama's food was too 
good to give up. My brother, who was married and 
had a child, was working as an elevator man in the 
Rust Building for $100 a month and I thought I would 
be on the top of the world if I could rise to such 
heights. Meanwhile, I was learning good work habits. 

Only one employee worked in each store - the phar- 
macist. All three were steady men, moving quietly 
as they filled prescriptions but always with an oc- 
casional glance around the store. They seemed to 
have a knack of recognizing the "visitor" who may 
have been looking for something to pick up. The 
druggist had a marble slab for mixing ointments and 
delicate scales to measure ingredients. Ninety- 
five out of 100 of today's prescriptions have in- 
gredients that were unknown in the 40' s. 


192 


This picture goes with the 
story on the following page. 



Delivery trucks for West Coast Grocery Company, 
1732 Pacific Avenue, Circa 1923. Courtesy of the 
author. 


193 


THEY EVEN DEALT IN FURS 

By Terry Grant 

AMOCAT ' was the name on the building across 
from the Union Station which I saw from the bus 
each day as I rode to Racine's Western Institute 
on the third floor of the Washington Building in 
downtown Tacoma. Everyone knew that "Amocat" was 
Tacoma spelled backwards, the trademark of one of 
the largest wholesale grocery establishments in the 
northwest. Little did I know that soon I would be 
a member of the office staff of that company. 

I had been attending business college at Racine's 
for about a year. After three years of education- 
al training at Bellingham, I had not been snapped 
up by any school board for a teaching position. My 
cousin, a teacher at Racine's, got me a job as eve- 
ning school clerk in the office for my tuition. I 
also earned my lunch by cashiering across the street 
at People's Department Store's lunch counter at 
11th and Pacific for an hour each day. There was 
no worry about minimum wages; I just felt lucky to 
get a free lunch for my services. 

By September 1940 I had completed the usual cours- 
es in shorthand and typing and had just started 
taking bookkeeping, which I enjoyed far more than 
the other subjects. One day Mrs. Richmond, the 
director of the school, called me into the office 
for an interview with Mr. Orren Judd. (As I recall, 
my slip was showing and I had a run in my stocking.) 
He interviewed two or three of the other students 
that day, but wonder of wonders, he hired me! I was 
to replace the girl in the "Red and White" account- 
ing department of West Coast Grocery Company, who 
was leaving for greener pastures at the Todd Ship- 
yards, which had just opened. "Red and White" 
stores were a chain of independent retail grocers 
who bought from the wholesale house, sold some i- 
tems labeled "Red and White" and advertised togeth- 
er. 


194 


On September 16, 1940, I appeared at 1732 Paci- 
fic Avenue. My predecessor had already left so 
breaking in was up to my supervisor and coworker, 
Dick Tilley. Dick was probably in his late 20 1 s 
at the time. I was 20. Both Dick and I reported 
to the treasurer of the company, Ethan R. Brines. 

My job was to post the ledgers and prepare mon- 
thly statements for about 30 grocery stores. This 
service to the stores was a convenience for them 
and also a way for the wholesale house to keep 
track of how well their customers were doing. We 
charged from $5 to $15 per month for the service, 
which included preparation of sales and payroll tax 
returns and monthly financial statements. 

My equipment consisted of a small electric Bur- 
roughs bookkeeping machine on a metal stand with 
casters, a hand-operated Burroughs adding machine 
and a Royal typewriter which I would transfer from 
a counter to my desk as needed. My salary for this 
position was $65 per month, $5 more than some of the 
clerks in other departments were receiving. 

Paydays were on the 15th and last day of the 
month. Our pay came in cash in a little brown en- 
velope with the gross amount, deductions and net pay 
shown on the outside. My deductions were only 33 <t 
per payday for Social Security. Our work week was 
forty- two hours with a strange arrangement that 
brought us in for three and one-half hours on Satur- 
day. Shortly after I started, we changed to a five 
day, forty-hour week with no decrease in pay. 

The president of the company, Robert H. Hyde, had 
his office in the back of the area on the other side 
of a ramp. He was a quiet man who kept a low pro- 
file. He used a door near his office and came and 
went so quietly that I was seldom aware that he was 
around. I used to wonder what was being discussed 
in his office when the door was closed. When the 
door was open, I never gave it a thought. 


195 


Quite the opposite in disposition was the vice- 
president of the company, Charles Welker. Mr. Wel- 
ker was a large man with a crew cut and a loud 
voice. His office was near the foot of the stairs 
and we always knew when he was around. When he 
wanted to place a telephone call, the switchboard 
operator by the front door didn't need her ear- 
phone to hear the number - we all heard it. I'll 
never forget the time he came booming out of his 
office with the announcement that the Narrows Bri- 
dge had tumbled into the bay. Rumor had it that 
at home he was a very quiet man. 

Gradually I became acquainted with others in the 
office. Mr. Judd, who had hired me, was the sec- 
retary and office manager. He was a rather hand- 
some, mild-mannered man with pale blue eyes and 
straight, white hair parted on one side. His sec- 
retary, Ida, married soon after I came and left 
the company. Mr. Welker's secretary also married 
and was terminated; married women were not expect- 
ed to work in those days! A year later this rule 
was thrown out; Pearl Harbor changed that over- 
night. 

Ellis Walrath took orders for the Country Desk. 
He was a slender, wiry man, reputedly the best 
dancer in the company. As he was over 60 years of 
age, this seemed incomprehensible to my 20- year 
old eyes. I later found out that it was really 
true; he was an excellent dancer. I can't remem- 
ber who took the orders at the City Desk. Earl 
Hetrick was the credit manager. He was a friendly 
fellow who subsequently went to work for a station- 
ery company. 

The cashier, Edwin Carl sen, who came soon after 
I did, was an older, gruff fellow who really in- 
timidated me. Later we became good friends, but I 
must admit I was rather afraid of him at first and 
gave him a wide berth. 

Mike Antush was the bookkeeper. He had a high 
stool and worked on his journals and ledgers at a 


196 


high counter. I can't recall for sure whether he 
wore a green eyeshade, but I think he did. Next 
to him was the accounts receivable clerk, Anna Ka- 
tona. She slaved over a bookkeeping machine with 
a huge carriage that clattered back and forth all 
day long. It seemed as if she was always worrying 
about the end-of-the-month closing. 

George Shull had the Alaska desk. He was a short 
pudgy man in his late 50' s who sat across from our 
fur buyer, Harry Lorber. Maybe fur buyer isn't 
the right term, but Harry was the one who had the 
most to do with furs in the company. 

At that time West Coast had several fur traders 
in Alaska who were their customers. These traders 
bought from West Coast on credit and shipped furs 
to the company to take care of what they owed. 

They originally obtained the furs as barter from 
their native Alaskan customers. West Coast sup- 
plied not only groceries but other items, such as 
stationery and hardware, which they bought for the 
traders in the Tacoma area. Once a year a ship 
would take these orders to Bristol Bay and up the 
Yukon for delivery to the traders. The ship would 
bring back the furs in payment. It was a very 
"trusting" arrangement. 

When the furs arrived, they were put into lots. 
The pelts were mostly silver and cross fox, musk- 
rat, mink and seal. Fur buyers, mostly from New 
York City, would have a chance to evaluate the lots 
and then an auction would be held in the company 
lunchroom with Harry Lorber as the auctioneer. The 
bidding was very secretive and Harry had to know 
the signals used by each buyer in the bidding. When 
the sales slips came back to the office, some of 
the clerks would process them to determine how much 
the buyers owed, how much brokerage was due West 
Coast and how much would go to the trader to be 
credited to his account. It was all rather exciting. 

Almost everyone in the office was on a first name 
basis. One exception was Miss Tuthill. She was a 


197 


gray-haired lady who had been with the company for 
many years. I remember part of her job was involv- 
ed with railroad and vendor claims. She was very 
accommodating as she sold candy bars and cigarettes 
at her desk. If there was a particular kind of 
candy bar or cigarette you wanted she would do her 
best to get it for you. Of course, her inventory 
came from the company's stock. Miss Tuthill was 
everyone's friend. 

Carl J. Gunnerson, or "Gunnie," ran the candy and 
tobacco department. His office was behind Mr. Wel- 
ker s. He had lots of samples in his office and 
once in a while we would get a handout. 

Johnnie Gould was the warehouse manager. He was 
rather prim, white-haired and neat, but always 
friendly. 

Bill Storaasli was shipping clerk. He was a tall 
blond man who always seemed to be in a hurry. I 
think that most of his trips into the office were 
to determine whether or not a delivery was to be 
C.O.D. 

Veronica Covach and Pat Lampe were two of the wo- 
men who worked with sales invoices. There was also 
an office girl who handled the mail and did some of 
the filing. 

One day I noticed a young, blond fellow in the 
office with a very thin face, accentuated by a crew 
cut. He seemed to know his way around. His dress 
was rather unconventional--a crew neck sweater rath- 
er than the regulation coat and tie. I soon found 
out that he was Charlie Hyde, the boss's son. He 
had been in Alaska visiting the Ketchikan, Juneau 
and Fairbanks branches. At that time he was the on- 
ly one of the three Hyde boys working for the family 
company. Eventually Bob and Bill joined the company. 
Charles became president when his father died. 

Our lunch hour was 60 minutes, long enough for a 
person to hike uptown and do a little shopping, if 


198 


one hurried. I usually went to town, as it was 
something to do and I enjoyed the exercise. If the 
wind was just right on Pacific Avenue there would 
be a sharp, burning sensation in one's mouth from 
the fumes emanating from port industries. 

At Christmas time in 1940 the company gave each 
employee a Savings Bond. Most of the employees re- 
ceived a $50 bond, but I felt lucky to receive a 
$25 bond after being with the company only three 
months. 

The other day I noticed a newspaper story about 
the sale of West Coast Grocery to a Minneapolis 
firm. It is sad to realize that another locally 
owned company has been swallowed up by large con- 
glomerates. It seems as if companies cannot sur- 
vive with their headquarters in the greater Tacoma 
area - with the notable exception of the Weyerhaeu- 
ser Company. 

I only hope that the subsidiaries which used to 
be independent can maintain their identities enough 
to retain brand names and keep payrolls in the lo- 
cal area. Unfortunately, too many of the local com- 
panies have been purchased only to be closed down in 
a few years. Let us hope that that doesn't happen 
to West Coast Grocery Company where I enjoyed my 
first job. 


199 





Masonic Temple at 47 St. Helens Avenue. Drawn by 
Myron Thompson, The Tacoma News Tribune. 


200 


THE UPS AND DOWNS OF MY FIRST JOB 

By J. Smith Bennett 


Up and down! Up and down! I felt like a monkey 
on a string! 

My first regular job, with hours, was running the 
elevator at the Masonic Temple on St. Helens Avenue. 

All that can be said for the job was, "It had it's 
ups and downs." 

That wasn't the first work I had ever done. I had 
babysat for my neighbors. Then there was the time 
my pal Tom Smith and I picked pie cherries for the 
YMCA near Orting. I had mowed lawns and polished 
the neighbor's car, all for the great sum of 50<t 
and I had furnished the polish and cloths! Well, 
the polish was from my father's supply and the 
cloths from mother's rag bag. Usually though, the 
lawns were done with the neighbor's tools. There 
were some who insisted upon my using my family's 
cools. Guess they were afraid I'd not put theirs 
away properly. There was a period when I waited 
tables at the various events at the Scottish Rite 
and the Masonic Temples. My pay was 50<t an hour and 
all I could eat. Being a teenager, I think they 
lost money, but then, how much apple pie can one 
eat? At least, I didn't drop anything and I didn't 
spill coffee on any of the guests. 

My father had been hinting that since I had grad- 
uated from high school perhaps I should find myself 
some summer work. In my usual procrastinating way I 
kept stalling. Guess I was scared to ask and then I 
thought maybe I might get stuck with some kind of job 
I wouldn't like. I wanted something on the glamorous 
side, something that wouldn't interfere with my so- 
cial life. One evening my father said, "Get in the 
car. We're going down to the Masonic Temple and talk 
to Mr. Miller. He has a job that maybe you can do - 


201 


running the elevator this summer." As they say, 

"I interviewed" and got the job; five nights a we- 
ek, from six o'clock until everyone was out of the 
building. My pay would be $35 a month. I didn't 
figure it out until the other day. You can see 
how slow I was. It worked out to be about 43<£ an 
hour. That was less than waiting tables, but my 
father said, "At least it's steady." 

For two evenings prior to my taking over, the 1 it- 
tle old lady who I was replacing for the summer 
months coached me on the rudiments of operating an 
elevator. Handle to the right, we'd go up, to the 
left, we'd come down. When the next floor was in 
line with the opening bar, shut off the power and 
the cab should coast to the floor. Well - almost! 
There would be a great deal of jiggling trying to 
even the cab with the floor. I'm quite sure many 
of those who rode with me missed the even opera- 
tion of that little old grey-haired lady. 

No one had told me that the elevator was in need 
of repairs. I took a load of Shriners from the 
fifth floor down to Fellowship Hall in the basement. 
Did everything according to Hoyle and instructions 
from my predecessor. Cut the power as the cab pas- 
sed the cross bar and watched as the elevator coast- 
ed past the basement floor, dropping into the pit 
by twelve inches. Pushing the lever to the right - 
the cab didn't move! I was stuck! Fortunately, 
the building janitor was there. He took me up to 
the penthouse, showing me how to raise the cab 
should I get stuck again. He explained the eleva- 
tor system needed work but the lodge didn't have 
the money. Before the evening was over, I dropped 
that cab into the pit five times. Five times I ran 
up the stair well, crawled up a ladder to the pent- 
house, then down the ladder and raced back down the 
stairs to my elevator. One time I had to do it all 
over again, since I hadn't raised the cab enough. 

All because those Shriners would crowd one more in- 
to the cab. It was only designed to carry a desig- 
nated weight, but those guys would always squeeze in 


202 


one more, until I began to know the feeling of a 
sardine! 

There were other times that I'd have to make that 
long trip up the stairs, climb the ladder to the 
penthouse, just to raise the elevator a foot, then 
go back through the entire process. Once I started 
up the stairs and encountered the janitor, who told 
me to return to the cab, call up the shaft and he'd 
raise the elevator. Returning to the main floor, 

I found the door open, the cab gone and a woman on 
one crutch leaning into the shaft, telling me, "You 
know, young man, there is no elevator here!" The 
janitor had raised it before I had a chance to yell 
up the shaft I was ready. Then came the job of 
trying to retrieve the cab to my floor. 

Many evenings there would be nothing happening 
at the Temple. On those evenings, I could leave 
early. My key let me out through the Temple Thea- 
ter, so I often would sit in the balcony and watch 
the last picture. In those days they had a door- 
man who would take your ticket and we became fair- 
ly well acquainted. One evening after I had locked 
up the Temple and he had finished his chores at the 
theater, we went down into the orchestra pit and 
turned on the pipe organ. He was a fair organist, 
and as I had been taking popular piano, he coached 
me into the workings of the theater organ. About 
the time our concert was getting under way, the 
manager of the Masonic Temple appeared on the scene. 
Since he and his family lived in the building, the 
vibrations of the organ were keeping him and his 
family awake. 

On slow nights my only customers would be those 
retired Masons who lived across the street at the 
old Bonneville Hotel. Apparently, there must have 
been a "NO SMOKING" sign in the lobby or perhaps 
they were too gentlemanly to offend the ladies who 
also lived there, with their cigar smoke. They 
would saunter across St. Helens Avenue, go up to the 
game room, light their cigars and read the evening 


203 


paper. When finished, they folded their papers ' 
and wandered back across the street to the Bonne- 
ville and their rooms. Those would be the nights 
I might practice pool. The elevator was close 
enough to the game room that I could hear the buz- 
zer if anyone wanted the elevator. One evening, 
just when I thought everyone was gone, I heard the 
buzzer. Running out to the cab, I found I still 
had the cue. Holding it between my knees, I start- 
ed the cab and the cue caught in the cross bar on 
the door and became kindling wood. I dropped the 
remains down the shaft. 

None of my chums ever dropped by to see how I 
was doing. I'm sure they had better things to do. 
One time a friend. Bob Manning, and I had gone to 
the Rialto and had seen a double feature. Stop- 
ping at Horluck's for a malt, we found we had time 
for another show, so took in a double feature at 
the Orpheum. By that time I had to get to work. 
Seeing it was going to be a slow night, I called 
Bob and said, "Hey man" (or something to that ef- 
fect). "How'd you like to see another movie? They 
got a good one here at the Temple; the "Secret 
Six." He came down, I let him in the back way, 
telling him I'd join him as soon as I locked up. 

We saw five movies that day! 

Much to my father's disgust, I wanted to quit at 
the end of summer. I wanted to go on to school. 

He thought I could do both. I was lazy and didn't 
want to exert that much effort. It was the Stan- 
dard Oil Company who settled both our problems. 

With the depression deepening, they decided to con- 
solidate their Tacoma and Spokane operations with 
their Seattle office. We moved to Seattle. 

So much for my first regular job! 


204 


OSCILLATOR VS. OSCULATOR 

By Margaret Whi ti s 

My husband and I arrived in Tacoma on January 2, 
1943 in a 16 foot trailer. We stayed a few days 
in the back yard of the Frank Reynolds home at 610 
South Steele until we located a place at South 12th 
and Sprague Streets, next door to a gas station. 

My cousin and her husband took us to Dick's Tavern 
on Sixth Avenue on our first night in Tacoma. We 
were introduced informally to Tom, Clyde, Fred and 
Fay. It was the first time I had heard people in- 
troduced by just their first names. In our pre- 
vious neighborhood I would have expected to hear 
something like, "Karen Anderson, I'd like you to 
meet Margaret Thurston who just moved here from 
Sunnyside. " 

My husband found a defense job in the shipyards 
and I went to work at the Quartermaster Laundry, 
Unit I, at Ft. Lewis, where I became timekeeper and 
payroll clerk. 

I learned to punch a time clock and how to ride 
city buses after a day or two of walking from Pa- 
cific Avenue to Sprague Street. I had to ask the 
bus driver how to buy bus tokens that other riders 
nonchlantly tossed into the metal container, and I 
learned how to ask for transfers if I made short 
stops. I had to be downtown by 6:10 in order to 
get to work before 7:00 am. It was a new experi- 
ence to live in a city. I had always lived and 
worked in a small town where Main Street was the 
hub of town. 

Fog was also a new experience. From our trailer 
which was just across the street from a bus stop, 

I could hear the bus tokens being dropped into the 
coin box but I couldn't see the bus. 

My job required a lot of sitting all day and I 
soon came to prefer walking down to Pacific Avenue 


205 


to the bus station at 13th and Pacific and to 
climb back up the hill at day's end. I was slen- 
der in those days, and my legs were still sturdy 

from tramping behind teams of horses on a Montana 
farm. 

We had no refrigerator in our trailer so I stop- 
ped daily at the corner of 11th and K Streets for 
fish, meat, vegetables, fruit and something to take 
in my lunch the following day. Some of my pur- 
chases were made at Sarantinos' Market and I also 
patronized the Federal Bakery, where I bought de- 
licious custard puffs for five cents each. 

After so much walking I soon needed a new pair 
of shoes which at that time were rationed. I found 
a handsome pair of brown suede at Pessemiers 1 which 
too soon became scuffed. Since I knew I'd have to 
wait days and days to have them repaired, I decid- 
ed to do it myself. Some "city person" told me to 
use a wire brush and vinegar; it merely removed 
the suede, so I wore bald shoes for the next sev- 
eral months. 

Riding the buses to and from work allowed us to 
hoard our gas rationing coupons for weekend drives 
to Sunnyside to see our pre-school daughters. We 
bought them inexpensive toys from stores in Tacoma 
so both girls were always glad to see us arrive, 
but it hurt us to hear their sobbing when we had 
to leave. My mother, who kept the children, al- 
ways gave us a dozen eggs or so to supply us until 
we returned on another visit. 

I enjoyed every minute of my work in the laundry 
office with about 16 other girls. It was a new 
experience and it was actually fun. As I deliver- 
ed messages to the employees, I had the opportun- 
ity to see the mammoth laundry vats, the wide 
presses (ironing boards) and other equipment which 
I found fascinating. Sometimes while an employee 
was reading a statement to be signed, I had an op- 
portunity to ask a foreman about the operation of 
his department. 


206 


I had a promotion of sorts when I was put in 
charge of bond drives for the 184 civilian employ- 
es in the laundry as well as my original payroll 
clerk and timekeeper duties. I still wasn't ful- 
ly occupied so asked for more work. Many of the 
younger girls chatted on the job and didn't get 
all their assignments completed each day. The 
day I received my first promotion after only six 
weeks on the job (I wasn't too popular) I was gi- 
ven the additional job of inventory clerk. I had 
to write requisitions for all supplies, including 
office materials for both units one and two of the 
laundry. When writing the first letter in my new 
capacity, I put carbon in backwards and had to re- 
do the requisition! 

One day the supply sergeant brought me a large, 
unlabeled box and said, "Here are your music rol- 
ls." "I didn't order any," I told him. "Oh, yes 
you did," he insisted. The box contained toilet 
paper and I blushed. 

One requisition I wrote was for an oscillator 
for a washing machine. I misspelled the word so 
that it read "osculator." A few days later my 
supervisor approached me with a chuckle, saying 
that the lieutenant at headquarters had phoned in 
a message stating that they would have liked to 
fulfill my written request for an osculator but 
regulations would not permit them to comply. I 
felt stupid at making the mistake and wished I 
could hide my red face. The whole office had a 
good laugh at my expense and eventually I could 
laugh at myself. 

A major in the inner office was the "top boss* 
and was required to sign all correspondence leav- 
ing our office. While he proof-read and signed 
letters, I studied a map he had on his office wall 
of the European and Pacific war areas. My only 
brother was in the 5th Division which had served 
in Africa, Sicily and Italy. Pins indicating ar- 
eas of action were moved daily and a rubber band 


207 


was placed around the pins to high-light battle 
zones. I didn't dare ask questions, but could 
keep up with Loren's infantry division. The map 
couldn't tell me if he was safe, however. 

Gas masks were standard issue and we were re- 
quired to carry them for a time. I only used it 
once when I donned it during an alert drill. We 
were directed to march out of our office, a large 
concrete building, and hide out in the woods. The 
trees were rather sparse and I was glad it was only 
a drill . 

A year and a half later when my brother had re- 
turned safely from the war, I showed him a snapshot 
of me in the gas mask and he teasingly said it was 
the best picture he had ever seen of me. 


208 




FISHING WITH PAPA 

By Jack Sundquist 


Papa would touch my shoulder and shake it quietly 
and say softly, "Come, Yack, come" and as I came 
out of the darkness and warmth of sleep, I would 
realize it was Papa and that we were going fishing. 
When you are ten years old there is a difference 
between your mother and your father waking you at 
night. Your mother is a warm nest of love, a re- 
fuge from pain or fear or sorrow, and a protector 
from all of these. But a father is a leader who 
says, "Come, we will go out into this strange and 
terrible world together and I will show you the 
way, together we will battle the dragons." They 
don't really say that, but that is the way you feel 
when Papa says, "Come." 

So I would slide out of bed and my feet hitting 
the cold floor would chase the last of sleep from 
my body. Then down the steps and into the kitchen 
where Papa had made a fire in the stove. I pulled 
on socks, pants, shirt and shoes in front of the 
open oven door. Papa had made mush for breakfast, 
oatmeal mush with cream and sugar and we sat to- 
gether at the kitchen table and ate silently but 
there was a feeling of togetherness, of father and 
son. There were seven in our family. Mama was al- 
ways busy around the house and Papa worked all day 
at the mill. When he came home there was work on 
the car and other things that seemed to take his 
time; there was little left for me. So when we sat 
together I felt I was very privileged for I was the 
only one of the children who got to sit with Papa 
alone. It was worth getting up at three a.m. to 
have breakfast with Papa while my brother and sis- 
ters slept above. It was also a special treat be- 
cause Mama always cooked everything and to have Pa- 
pa cook something for you showed that he really did 
something special for you for he never cooked any- 
thing for the other children. So we would have our 


209 


mush and milk in the darkness of the early morn- 
ing, for Papa thought that one should be fishing 
before the sun came up. 

After breakfast we would get in the old 1926 
two-door Studebaker and drive down to the desert- 
ed Mill B by the mouth of the Puyallup River, 
where St. Regis Paper now stands. The mill had 
been built in 1926, run for about six months, and 
shut down. A small float was at the water's edge 
and the company allowed Papa to keep a rowboat 
there. A single lightbulb hung over the float and 
illuminated the water surrounding it. One morning 
as we came down the gangplank which led to the 
float we saw the lighter shape of a giant dogfish 
slip through the water next to the float. It seem- 
ed eight feet long but I suppose it was only four, 
but its sleek shape, silently slipping through the 
water, sent a shiver through my ten-year old 
spine. 

We would get into the twelve-foot rowboat that 
Papa had made of cedar boards planed so carefully 
that the edges needed no caulking. Papa had paint- 
ed it a dark red with "Gary" painted across the 
stern for his first grandson. Out into the dark- 
ness we went. Papa rowing slowly and I sitting in 
the stern. Sometimes there was fog, making our 
world a small ball of grey with the two of us with- 
in, surrounded by a small patch of black water. 
Occasionally other boats would emerge from a fog- 
bank like beings from another planet. Like two 
fish, we would move to avoid each other and carry 
our own world away from them. No one used an out- 
board motor in those days, I suppose one would 
have considered them fish chasers with their pop- 
ping and droning. One did not even talk so as not 
to disturb the fish. We communicated with whis- 
pers for we had gone into the world of the fish 
and must consider his privacy. We saw the famil- 
iar places, the docks with a few lights, the long 
pile of rocks that marked the mouth of the Puyal- 
lup River and the wooden marker at the end, and. 


210 


if the night was clear, the galaxy of lights that 
was Tacoma on the west. 

In those days we used very simple gear, heavy 
dark green cuttyhunk line wrapped around a board 
or a metal reel that had been used to hold elec- 
trical wire. Papa's salary as a welder did not 
allow the luxury of a professional reel so he made 
do with what he could. He would have thought it 
a sin indeed to spend money on such frivolities 
when he had a wife and children to provide for. 
Besides, he had that sense of not wasting, claim- 
ed by Scotsmen, but used by others, and he would 
seek an alternative, an "almost as good as." With 
his machinist and welder's skills he would produce 
his own version which might not be as pretty, but 
worked almost as well. (He was the despair of his 
daughters at times. When the driver's window of 
his 1936 Ford broke he replaced it with a sheet of 
black steel with a steel handle welded near the 
top. ) 

We would row back and forth off the mouth of the 
Puyallup, taking turns rowing, moving carefully 
when we changed places. I shudder today to think 
we never wore life preservers or had any in the 
boat. Neither of us knew how to swim. But then, 

I don't remember anyone else using life preservers 
then either, so there you are. We used a shovel 
and a rudder, I believe - a straight piece of met- 
al followed by a curved piece that revolved as it 
was pulled through the water, and that followed by 
a leader with herring as bait on a hook. The re- 
volving metal was supposed to mimic a salmon's 
tail revolving or thrashing through a school of 
herring and the herring was hooked so it acted 
like a crippled herring. A salmon seeing this was 
supposed to grab the herring and then the fun be- 
gan. The jerking of a salmon on the line is one 
of the top thrills of boyhood or manhood and days 
and weeks of cold, wet and misery are suffered 
yearly by myriads of men to enjoy that thrill. A 
man can shed his problems and become a boy again 
with a fishing pole in his hand. 


211 


As morning came and it grew lighter our world 
expanded. The sun, peeking over the hills, would 
paint the water in golden forms that gradually en- 
croached upon the black night. Then the black be- 
came dark blue and lighter and the sky revealed 
itself, sometimes with streaks of clouds crowned 
with pink, or orange, or red. Some of the magic 
left then, for Papa and I were not alone, but sur- 
rounded by other men and boats. Sometimes I 
thought that the same water that came down the ri- 
ver and past our boat went out into the ocean, 
evaporated into the sky, became clouds which moved 
in over the mountains, fell as rain or snow and 
moved down the streams and the river again; had 
done the same thing many times and would do the 
same many more times. But there was that one spe- 
cial time when it was remembered by a small boy 
who sat with his father in a boat long ago. 

Sometimes we caught salmon - bright, glistening, 
and we carried them in triumph to Mama, the prim- 
itive hunters returning to the home cave. Mama 
was always properly amazed. But to me the reward 
was not the salmon but being alone with Papa in 
that small boat in the darkness of the morning, 
just we two, facing the dragons. 

I do not care to go to Heaven if it means sitting 
in a chair listening eternally to a heavenly chor- 
us singing hymns, or angels discoursing on salva- 
tion. Heaven may be achieved by a mother holding 
her firstborn child, by love's first kiss, by a 
child's feeling of safety in his mother's arms, or 
a parent's pride in his child's success. One of 
my Heavens was sitting with my father in the dark- 
ness of the morning as the sun came up and painted 
the water gold and black. 


212 


STEAMBOAT'S A-COMIN' 

By Robert Doubleday 


Not many of us who were around sixty years ago 
would want to go back to the time when we had to 
build a fire in the kitchen stove if we wanted a 
cup of coffee, nor would we be willing to give up 
our automatic washing machines to go to work again 
over a scrub board. But there were a few things we 
could do in those days that were decidedly more 
pleasant than their substitutes today. Making a 
day trip to Seattle by steamship was one of these. 

My father frequently took me with him on his bus- 
ness trips out of town. We never went very far: to 
Olympia, Portland, Aberdeen, Raymond and, of course, 
Seattle. Our favored means of visiting the Queen 
City was on one of the steamships operated by the 
Puget Sound Navigation Company: the TACOMA, IN- 
DIANAPOLIS or WASHINGTON. Of these, our choice 
was the TACOMA, for perhaps chauvinistic reasons. 

The ships left Tacoma from the Municipal Dock on 
an every-other-hour schedule, starting at 7:00 a.m. 
with the last trip at 9 p.m. We would ride the 
streetcar down K Street to 13th, where we took the 
cablecar bound for downtown and got off at 11th and 
A Street. There was a pedestrian walk suspended 
beneath the deck of the 11th Street bridge (por- 
tions of this walk are still to be seen) which led 
down to the waiting room in the Municipal Dock. 
Money wasn't wasted on foolishness in those times 
and the waiting room exemplified this thrifty con- 
cept. It was a vast cavern of a space, or so it 
seemed to a child, sparsely decorated if at all. 
Apparently there was a lunchroom attached to the 
waiting area. At least the City Directory listed 
the Municipal Dock in its register of eating estab- 
lishments. I remember nothing of this since our 
family means didn't permit such indulgences. If we 


213 


ate lunch it was usually one which mother prepar- 
ed and we packed along in a paper bag or disguis- 
ed in my father's briefcase. 

There was an air of excitement, to me at least, 
while the passengers shuffled around on the bare 
wooden floor, awaiting the blast of the steam 
whistle announcing the arrival of the ship. Soon 
the Seattle passengers were streaming down the 
fragile looking gangplank and then the signal was 
given for us to board. There is no feeling quite 
like that of stepping off the land and into the 
hull of a ship buoyant upon the sea and pulsing 
with the power of its engines. One can sense the 
liveliness of the vessel even in calm water. 

We entered the great mahogany-paneled passenger 
cabin of the TACOMA which was outfitted with thea- 
ter type seats and, if we had the price, we would 
drop a coin into the slot of the nickolodeon to be 
entertained by tinny renditions of "Red Wing" or 
"I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," "Somewhere the Sun 
is Shining" or other numbers popular on the vaude- 
ville stage. With another blast of the whistle to 
announce our departure. Captain Everett B. Coffin 
made a skillful maneuver to turn the two-hundred- 
and-f if teen-foot long TACOMA around in the City 
Waterway and head north for Seattle. 

No matter what the weather it was a pleasant 
trip. I recall one winter day when there was ice 
on the streets and the Brown's Point lighthouse 
was barely visible through a snowstorm which we 
watched from the sanctuary of our cozy warm cabin. 

We were at liberty to prowl the ship and frequent- 
ly did so. The hurricane, or top-side deck, was 
open to the weather and was a favorite for summer 
tourists, who hung on to their hats when the ship 
got up to her top speed. The lower deck contained 
the baggage space, engine compartment, additional 
passenger seating, a dining saloon and a "Gentle- 
men's Smoking Room" which, in earlier times, had a 


214 


bar to succor the weary. In the years when I knew 
the TACOMA her once elegant furnishings had begun 
to look somewhat seedy. I don't recall that the 
dining room was serving meals, probably not, and 
the bar had been reduced to serving soda pop, pea- 
nuts, candy bars and the like. What a terrible 
fate! 

The TACOMA was powered by a four-cylinder, tri- 
ple-expansion steam engine of 3500 horsepower 
which, when she was launched in 1913, earned for 
her the title of the "fastest single-screw inland 
waters commercial vessel in the world. Whether 
or not that was true, it was a nice title anyway. 

She had a measured speed of twenty-one knots, 
which, even today, is quite respectable. I can 
remember being awed by the sight, sound and smell 
of those great engines throbbing with power as we 
knifed through the waters of the Sound. 

The Seattle Construction and Drydock Company de- 
signed and built the TACOMA specifically for the 
Seattle-Tacoma run. She was ordered in 1912 by the 
Inland Navigation Company, later known as the Pug- 
et Sound Navigation Company, and her acceptance 
trials were conducted on June 16, 1913 at which 
she easily met her speed requirements. She went 
into regular service on June 22, 1913 and was in 
continuous use until the end of scheduled passenger 
service in Decmeber, 1930. She was used occasion- 
ally as an excursion vessel in the early 30 ' s and 
finally was scrapped in 1938. 

The other ships on the Seattle-Tacoma run, INDIAN- 
APOLIS and WASHINGTON, had a great deal more his- 
tory going for them. The WASHINGTON was the old 
FLYER, reoutfitted and renamed for her new assign- 
ment. The FLYER had been around the Sound for a 
number of years and was a favorite because of her 
speed and reliability. The first part of her ca- 
reer had been on the Columbia River and when she 
came up to Puget Sound it was found that her narrow 
hull rolled to a degree that was unsettling to the 


215 


passengers so she was widened by the adding of 
sponsons. In 1917 she was extensively rebuilt, 
including the enlarging of her passenger cabin, 
and renamed WASHINGTON. But all the old timers 
knew her as the FLYER. 

The INDIANAPOLIS was one of three inland steam- 
ers built on the Great Lakes, by the Craig Ship- 
yards of Toledo, Ohio, for the Puget Sound Naviga- 
tion Company. The others were the CHIPPEWA and the 
IROQUOIS. The INDIANAPOLIS, completed in 1905, was 
180 feet in length with a beam of 32 feet and had 
triple expansion steam engines. Her effective 
cruising speed was 16 knots. She entered Puget 
Sound after her trip down the St. Lawrence and 
around the Horn in February 1906 and first served 
on the Seattl e-Victoria route. She later was plac- 
ed on the Seattle-Tacoma run. unfortunately, when 
she reached her top speed she threw a wake that 
raised Ned with marinas, beach cottages, log booms 
and other assorted waterfront activities. There 
was a flurry of lawsuits until an agreement was 
reached on the speed limits to be observed that 
would placate the waterfront interests as well as 
the ship operators. 

The run to Seattle took about an hour and twenty 
minutes, give or take a few minutes, and the round- 
trip fare ranged over the years from a low of fif- 
ty cents to a high of eight-five cents. The ships 
tied up at the old Coman Dqck. Adjoining the en- 
trance to the passenger waiting room was the "Olde 
Curiosity Shop," facing on Alaska Way. Its front 
was framed by the tusks of some great creature (or 
were they whale bones?) and its innards were a de- 
lightfully disorganized mess of birds' nests, 
shrunken heads, taxidermists' monstrosities, scrim- 
shaw, fake Indian baskets and other like treasures. 

For some reason which I have never divined, my 
father did not like Seattle. He was furiously de- 
voted to Tacoma and found it hard to be charitable 
or kindly toward the Queen City. Our visits to 


216 


Seattle therefore, rarely extended beyond the li- 
mits of father's business interests. I don't be- 
lieve we ever visited the Ballard Locks, for ex- 
ample, or even the site of the old Alaska-Yukon 
Exposition on the campus of the University of Wa- 
shington. Once, we did take lunch at the Pig 'N 
Whistle, a very popular eating place, located I be- 
lieve, on Second Avenue. 

My memory of Seattle in the 20 ‘s was sharpened 
by the peculiar but not unpleasant smells associ- 
ated with the waterfront area. There may have be- 
en a number of coffee roasting and spice process- 
ing plants in that part of town, all of which were 
making manifest their presence. We could stand 
some of the same in Tacoma nowadays. Anyway, my 
earliest recollections of Seattle are always envel- 
oped in those unfamiliar but not unpleasant aromas. 

If you were of a mind you could take other voya- 
ges in those days. In early January, 1924, there 
were listed in the Tacoma News Tribune the follow- 
ing sailings: 

California: 

SS MULTNOMAH 1/5/24 SS WILLAMETTE 1/5/24 

SS CELILO 1/8/24 SS WAPAMA 1/9/24 

Alaska: (From Pier 2, Seattle) 

SS ALASKA 1/5/24 

SS VICTORIA 1/15/24 

Pacific Steamship Company (from Seattle) 

To California: 

SS RUTH ALEXANDER 1/3/24 
SS ADMIRAL SCHLEY 1/7/24 
SS DOROTHY ALEXANDER 1/10/24 


217 


To Alaska: 


SS ADMIRAL ROGERS 1/9/24 
SS ADMIRAL WATSON 1/18/24 

A day boat and a night boat made regul ar sai 1 ings 
to other Puget Sound ports. 

It is pleasant to conjure up visions of the old 
boys with their derby hats, walrus moustaches, cel- 
luloid collars and detachable cuffs, gathered in 
that old bar on the first deck of the TACOMA lift- 
ing a glass or two in that Havana-scented air while 
slipping through the waters of the Sound on their 
way home from Seattle. 

Contrast this sociable scene, if you will, with 
the frantic stream on Interstate 5 today with the 
commuter wrapped in his steel cocoon, eyes fixed on 
the bumper ahead of him, out of touch with his fel- 
lows and at the mercy of the caprices of weather, 
traffic and other drivers. 

We've made real progress! 


218 





The Crystal Palace Public Market, June 18, 1927. 
Courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library. 


This picture goes with the 
story on the following page. 


219 


WHAT'S IN A NAME, ANYWAY? 

By Phyl 1 i s Kai ser 


Is this downtown Tacoma? Its face has changed! 

I am on Market Street--but where are the markets? 
Newcomers to Tacoma or younger generations who 
have no memories of Tacoma's past, might ask them- 
selves this very question: "Where are the markets?" 
Market Street is 14 blocks long, extending from 
St. Helens Avenue on the north to Jefferson Avenue 
on the south. As I walk south to 15th I find a 
small store, Kenny's Grocery, at 1554 Market, the 
lone survivor of a past era. 

Turning the years back, through research, I 
learned Market had been known as D Street until 
nineteen-fifteen. City Market, the first market on 
D Street, was located on the southeast corner of D 
and 9th as early as 1889. The following year City 
Market moved to C (now Broadway) where other mar- 
kets and produce stores were located. C Street was 
a heavily populated district of markets and hotels 
in the early 1 900 ' s . The Public Market, later 
known as Tacoma Public Market, was operating by 1910 
on the southwest corner of D and 11th. After that 
time there was a gradual movement of other markets 
to D Street. The largest number of new vendors 
came to Market Street in 1915, (the year D became 
Market) predominately Japanese, selling fruits and 
vegetables. Some people may remember the Sanitary 
Market at 1106 Market, dating back to 1918. 

I remember Market Street in 1939 when my father 
began working as a meat-cutter at Baker's Washington 
Market in the Crystal Palace. At that time most 
meat and produce markets were situated between 11th 
and 13th. The J. Cozza and W. H. Corbett poultry 
shops were side by side and adjacent to the north- 
west corner of 13th and Market. Their businesses 
dated back to 1916. On that site today is the new 


220 


downtown YMCA. An interesting feature of those 
poultry shops was allowing customers to select 
live poultry from a number of holding pens, or 
choose fully dressed poultry from the display 
case. The same was true for rabbits. At Easter- 
time parents could purchase fluffy baby chicks or 
cuddly white bunnies, as gifts for their children; 
bunnies and chicks were often displayed in the 
front windows. Few parents could resist buying 
them. Sometimes Cozza or Corbett bought back the 
rabbit or chicken when it was fully grown. A child 
finding a full-grown pet missing, might learn years 
later that a parent had sold it to the poul try shop. 

In 1927 the "City of Destiny" was moving ahead! 
Tacomans read about a mammoth market as large as 
ten markets (of that day) built on the southeast 
corner of 11th and Market. It was the previous 
site of an old hotel and rooming house. Dedication 
and opening of the Crystal Palace Public Marketwas 
held on June 4. A special section of the June 3, 
nineteen- twenty-seven issue of the Tacoma News Tri- 
bune gave coverage and congratulations from many 
city businesses. It was described as the "North- 
west's Greatest Food Emporium," and was featured as 
the "Honest Weight Market." That tells us some- 
thing about other markets of that day! 

The Charada Investment Company, the firm financ- 
ing the venture, was headed by Arthur E. Goodwin, 
President and General Manager; C.B. Hurley, Vice 
President and Secretary; and C.L. Hawley, Assistant 
Manager. Goodwin was also president and general 
manager of Pike Place Public Markets, Inc. of Seat- 
tle, and was a former chairman and member of the 
advisory board of Crystal Palace Public Market in 
San Francisco. Preferred stock in the venture was 
advertised at $100 per share with 8 % dividend, pay- 
able semi-annually. 

A.H. Albertson had been commissioned as the ar- 
chitect. He first traveled around the country with 
Goodwin, visiting big markets for ideas before 


221 


making his design. The building was of heavy re- 
inforced concrete, a fireproof construction. In- 
clined runways went from lower to upper floors, 
taking the place of steps. Fisher's Department 
Store offered the convenience of elevator service 
and from their third floor one could cross the 
Court C Bridge, thus making Fishers and the Crys- 
tal Palace "practically one building." Of the four 
floors the first was entered from Court C; the 
second from the side hill of 11th Street; the third, 
accommodating the largest number of shops, was on 
the level of Market Street; the fourth, rented as 
offices and apartments, stretched narrowly atop the 
building from north to south, leaving open roof 
space on the east and west sides of that floor. The 
Crystal Parking Garage was entered from Court C. 

Among the numerous tenants of the 1940's were Fed- 
eral Bakery and Van de Kamp's, the latter known 
for flavorful Oatmeal bread. Guy and Helen Satter- 
thwaite's Crystal Barber and Beauty Shop was a part 
of theCrystal Palace from its beginning to its end, 
as was also true of the Gravatone Press. Thomsen's 
Health Store advertisements intrigued many health 
enthusiasts with Mountain Valley Mineral Water from 
Hot Springs, Arkansas, claiming to "help stimulate 
kidney action, soothe bladder irritation and combat 
uric-acidity." This store was later purchased by 
"Vitamin Virg" Groff as the start of his lucrative 
health food business. Two fish markets, Marush and 
National, sold fresh, ocean-caught salmon for 45<t 
a pound and oysters at 60<t a pint. At the Savon 
Drug Store one could buy Carter's Little Liver Pills, 
Doan's Kidney Pills and Phillips Milk of Magnesia, 
each for 59<t, or Alka Seltzer for 49<t. 

Services were available from R. H. Phinney's real 
estate office, Lawrence R. Brehmer's shoe repair, and 
a little-known dressmaker. George Nein and Angelo 
Bartoy operated a butter, cheese and egg stand; Peter 
Nelson's business was the Crystal Creamery. Many of 
us remember Ernest and Gladys Colosimo's Crystal 
Grill, a small but long-term restaurant, as well as 


222 


the Green Parrot Lunch and Charles Peterson's Res- 
taurant. Produce stalls prominent in the market 
were those run by J.A. Stamiris, Harris Ward, Hal- 
lis Brothers, Robert Wilmesmeier, and William Zim- 
merman. Fruits and vegetables were always arrang- 
ed artistically and neatly, with colorful patterns 
drawing customers closer to inspect freshness. 
Thanksgiving 1944 ads listed potatoes at 10 pounds 
for 37<it, cranberries 39<t per pound, Texas oranges 
at 9<t per pound, delicious apples, 4 pounds for 
forty- three cents or solid head cabbage 5<t per 
pound. Gunnar's Grocery and Jack Normo's Franklin 
Food Store also had their specials, with Hill's 
Coffee at 31<t for a one-pound glass jar, flour one 
dollar-nine cents for a 25 pound sack and sugar 
ten pounds for 63 <t. 

Meat markets were prudently located throughout 
the Crystal Palace. Steve Dimmick's New York Qual- 
ity and Bert Dean's (later Uhrich Quality Meats) 
were on the third or Market Street level. City 
Market on the second level used the 11th Street 
entrance. Cornelius Baker's Washington Market on 
the first level, had a Court C entry. T-bone 
steaks sold for 38<t per pound, pork roasts at 33<t 
per pound and veal roasts 29 <t per pound. Thanks- 
giving turkeys for 47 <t per pound if over 20 pounds 
and 51<t if under 20 pounds. Prices were usually 
one to several pennies less on Market Street than 
at suburban stores, however, merchants did not 
practice undercutting prices. 

The Tacoma Times for December 16, 1942, stated in 
bold print, "Loss of Japanese tenants 'breaks' down- 
town market." The war with Japan and subsequent in- 
ternment of Japanese were blamed for the failure of 
the Crystal Palace. The market, the principal as- 
set of the investment company, went into receiver- 
ship that day. New management suffered from the 
continuing business decline. The Crystal Palace, 
mostly vacant for many years, met the inevitable 
"Wrecker's ball" in about 1973, a feat that proved 
its sound structure. Today the site appears as a 


223 


huge hole in the ground, accented by surrounding 
structures. The "hole in the ground" now serves 
as a parking lot. 

My father and brother. Jack and Richard Uhrich, 
bought Bert Dean's Market, located halfway back on 
the third floor, in late 1945. Richard first 
learned the meat cutting trade at the Crystal Pal- 
ace, beginning as a delivery truck driver in 1940. 
He has continued in this trade to the present, 
currently employed by Safeway Stores. Looking for 
an improved location with maximum foot traffic, 
they bought the New York Quality market in January 
of 1950, next to the 11th and Market Street entry. 

Most regular customers lived or worked in the 
downtown area. Many elderly people living down- 
town were on social security retirement and often 
lacked wisdom managing meager incomes. Monthly 
they came in to cash retirement checks and buy 
food. My father and brother watched with concern 
as they departed for the slot-machines, then legal, 
and "pumped in" much of their money, hoping to 
"hit it big." They never did! Their addiction 
for slot-machines continued until legislation made 
them i 1 legal . 

Mr. Crow, a newspaper salesman, became a peren- 
nial fixture on the corner of 11th and Market. His 
long overcoat, hanging almost to the ground, was a 
part of his identity. He was never without it ex- 
cept on the very hottest of days. Many people will 
remember the short, stocky man, unconcerned about 
the heels catching the overcoat hem as he walked, 
or people scowling at him as he spat a tobacco wad 
into the gutter. When someone gave him a camera 
it was his pleasure to go through the Crystal Pal- 
ace, taking pictures, later giving one to each bus- 
inessman. 

Some evenings I drove downtown to get my father 
after his 6:00 p.m. closing. While waiting in the 
parked car I had a glimpse of Market Street "after 


224 


hours." Trash cans lined the sidewalk, waiting 
for the regular "garDage scroungers" to come. One 
by one they came, each with a large burlap bag 
slung over one shoulder, already bulging with un- 
known contents. Leaning, they reached deep into 
the trash can, sorting and inspecting contents 
that would go into their bag; then suddenly 
straightening, they sauntered on to the next can. 

I noticed even the last "garbage scrounger" to 
come by always found useful items to put in his 
bag. 

The evenings when I arrived at the market early 
enough I went inside to help my father put things 
away. I noted how well the vendors could communi- 
cate in that large area with no aids. I sometimes 
found myself surrounded by cross-store conversa- 
tions; vendors passing on news of the day, using 
all their vocal strength to be heard part way a- 
cross the building. My father carefully wrapped 
the daily receipts in butcher paper to match the 
meat packages he would be taking home. All the 
packages went into his canvas carrying-bag. I watch- 
ed vendors leave with their food packages and be- 
lieved they were using the same ruse as my father. 
To my knowledge, none of them was ever threatened 
by a robber. 

Large food markets in downtown Tacoma will remain 
a memory for many of us. Today I read about the 
building of Washington's largest market, a super 
super-market. I begin to wonder, "Will it be ten 
times as large as the Crystal Palace?" Construc- 
tion cost will be $6.2 million at a site on South 
Eightieth and Hosmer. It would dwarf the Crystal 
Palace! I believe the concept of markets will con- 
tinue to change in coming years; only with creative 
thought can we speculate what those changes will 
be. 


225 


THE OLYMPIC DAIRY ICE CREAM PARLOR 

By Jack Sundquist 

Going downtown with Mama in 1930 was an adven- 
ture because downtown was the shopping center of 
Tacoma. Streetcar lines fed into Pacific Avenue 
and Broadway and the cable car ran up 11th Street 
to Kay Street and down 13th to A Street. Rhodes 
and Fisher's Department stores were on 11th and 
Broadway, with Penney 1 s also on Broadway and Peo- 
ples on Pacific. Kress and Metropolitan Ten Cent 
Stores offered their products on dark red counters. 
Specialty shops offered everything from shoes to 
drugs and clothing. 

Restaurants abounded. Rhodes, Fisher's and Peo- 
ples had their own in-store restaurants and other 
restaurants large and small, were scattered along 
the streets. Mannings on 11th, the Mecca on 13th, 
and Browne's Star Grill were favorites but after 
a tour of Rhodes and Fisher's one of Mama's favor- 
ite stops was the Olympic Dairy Ice Cream Parlor. 

The Olympic Dairy Ice Cream Parlor was across 
the alley called Court C, from Rhodes. A door led 
into one large room with a very high ceiling and a 
long high counter running along the south wall. 

Here you ordered your ice cream cones, sodas or 
sundaes. Then you took your choice to one of the 
number of chairs which lined the walls. The chairs 
were wood painted white with a table arm just like 
the ones used in college classrooms. A second room 
about the same size was just north of the main 
room. It too was lined with chairs. It was a nice 
place to rest and relax and some downtown workers 
brought their sack lunches and ate there, buying a 
coke, small bottle of milk or dish of ice cream. 
Mama's favorite was a variation of a root beer 
float, consisting of Green River with a scoop of 
orange sherbet. As she drank and stirred, the 
orange mixed with the green and slowly turned into 


226 


an unpleasant brown, which nauseated me! Eating 
an ice cream cone in the coolness of the Olympic 
Dairy and watching other people, old and young, 
enjoying theirs, is a pleasant memory of my child- 
hood in Tacoma in 1930. 


227 


OUR FIRST AUTOMOBILE 

By Robert Doubleday 

Volumes have been written about the Model T 
Ford so nothing I am about to say could be thought 
of as original except that these impressions come 
from my own boyhood experiences. 

My father, a journalist by trade, didn't own a 
car until he was about 60 years old, when he ac- 
quired a 1917 Model T Ford when we returned to Ta- 
coma after a three-year stay in Peekski 11, New 
York. 

In the language of the day, our Ford was descri b- 
ed as a touring car." It had a cloth folding top 
and was open on the sides. During the winter 
months "side curtains" where attached to provide 
some shelter from the elements. They were not 
very successful in their purpose. 

It is best to describe our first automobile in 
terms of what it did not have. It did not have a 
self-starter. It had to be hand-cranked and at 
the same time, its arcane internal organs were 
manipulated to coax the engine to life. It did 
not have windows, a glovebox, a trunk, a heater, 
electric headlights, a radio, instruments of any 
kind, arm rests, power steering, ash trays, backup 
lights, cigarette lighter, power brakes, electric 
windshield wipers or windshield washers, turn sig- 
nals, hydraulic brakes, defroster, a spare wheel 
or an accelerator pedal, to say nothing of the more 
effete features of modern autos, such as tinted 
glass, air-conditioning, electronic ignition, tilt- 
steering wheel, four-way seats, cruise control, 
stereo tape player; to name a few. 

Our Model T was not much more than a self-propel- 
led buggy, mounted high on great, wooden-spoke 
wheels sporting skinny tires of about three inches 
in cross section. It teetered and sputtered down 


228 


our rough streets, powered by a cranky, noisy en- 
gine subject to a host of peculiar maladies. I 
have heard it said by some that they drove their 
Model T's fifty miles an hour. Perhaps. Ours 
never proceeded at that break-neck speed. Father 
insisted that the Ford was designed to operate 
most efficiently at twenty-two miles an hour. 

Our home was about two blocks from the street- 
car line and my mother and I both liked to walk 
so the Ford was used on Sunday to go to church; on 
other days for Father's business trips to town, to 
carry heavy objects and for picnicking and camp- 
ing trips. During pleasant summer days we enjoy- 
ed an occasional joyride through the Puyallup Val- 
ley, to the Steilacoom waterfront and to Point De- 
fiance Park and its "Five Mile Drive." 

Every couple of years in the summer we would 
make the two-hundred-mile journey to Selah, in 
Eastern Washington, to visit Aunt Della, my moth- 
er's sister, her husband John and son Richard. 

John was an orchardist, struggling against the 
forces of plant disease, poor markets or poor 
crops. Our trip through Snoqualmie Pass took 
three days. We usually stayed the first night in 
Falls City, the second in Easton and we would fin- 
ally get to the ranch after dark on the third day. 
The Snoqualmie Pass road at that time resembled a 
dry stream bed, strewn with boulders, crushed rock 
and loose gravel and frequent stops were made to 
repair those puny little tires that were pounded 
into submission by the unyielding stone. It was a 
miserable trip and I am amazed now to think of our 
having even started out on such an insane venture 
in that rickety, fragile-looking vehicle on those 
terrible roads. Our parents were made of stern 
stuff! 

You have probably seen photographs of the "Oakies" 
on their dismal migrations out of the dustbowl with 
their Fords staggering under loads of dunnage that 
would blanch a camel driver. Every one of our 


229 


camping trips resembled those pictures. There 
was no place in a Model T to store anything other 
than passengers; no trunk, no glovebox, roof rack, 
luggage rack, no console, not even an ashtray. 
Everything that was inanimate had to be strapped 
or tied to the car in some fashion, left to the 
ingenuity of the driver. This provoked a variety 
of homespun solutions even the best of which, gave 
the whole contraption the appearance of a moving 
flea market as it flapped its ungainly way down 
the road. The more orderly souls designed folding 
picnic boxes that rested on the running boards and 
opened out to display an array of dishes, silver- 
ware and pots and pans. My father's skill as a 
carpenter didn't reach this level, so our Ford was 
festooned with lumps of bedding, clothing, kitchen- 
ware, tent and groceries, as we sailed along the 
highway on one of our grand adventures. 

One of the truly wretched tasks that was the lot 
of the Ford owner was that of repairing a flat 
tire - an unfortunate event that occurred much more 
often than you can now dream possible. Until the 
advent of the demountable rim, repairing a flat 
called for wrestling the tire and tube from the 
wheel which was attached to the axle, patching the 
ruptured inner tube, putting the whole thing back 
together on the wheel, and then pumping with hand- 
pump to about sixty pounds of pressure. Not a job 
to be taken lightly and yet one that had to be 
faced frequently on trips outside the city on coun- 
try roads. 

I mentioned that our Model T had no electric star- 
ter: During cold weather father would heat a tea- 
kettle full of water, pour it over the intake mani- 
fold of the engine and then commence the hand-crank- 
ing routine. He was a patient man and of good cheer 
fortunately, as the car frequently didn't start wil- 
lingly even with this Christian treatment. On one 
occasion it backfired, the crank handle spun in re- 
verse and broke father's forearm. He knew of this 
hazard but forgot to duck. 


230 


Taking aboard a load of gasoline was an adven- 
ture in itself. There was no fuel level gauge so 
the driver had to carry a sort of inborn sense of 
when to keep an eye out for the nearest service 
station. Henry Ford managed to find the most awk- 
ward possible place to locate the gasoline tank - 
under the front seat. The driver and the front 
seat passenger had to dismount, remove the seat, 
unscrew the gas tank cap, plumb the tank's inter- 
ior with a little wooden paddle, and make a guess 
as to how much fuel to buy. We rarely filled the 
tank. There were no pressure-sensitive automatic 
shut-offs on gas station pumps and no filler pipe 
on the car's tank, so filling it was a precarious 
enterprise. I mentioned that both the driver and 
front seat passenger had to exit the car: this 
resulted from one of the more curious features of 
the Ford manufacture: there was no door on the 
driver's side of the car! I have never heard an 
explanation for this apparent bit of lunacy but 
all earlier Model T's were so designed. Apparently 
old Henry was not about to admit that he had made 
a mistake. 

Father wrote publicity for the Western Washing- 
ton Fair in Puyallup and one year when I was quite 
young - perhaps before I was in school - he took 
me to work with him during Fair week. After along 
and satisfying day at the fair, we would make the 
trip home to Tacoma in the Model T on the old "Val- 
ley Road." The nights were cool and the car was 
open. Father would bundle me up in the back seat; 
wrapped in blankets and with the brisk air in my 
face, we sputtered the eight miles home. I was us- 
ually asleep long before we arrived but I have a 
pleasant memory of the mystery of the night, the 
cold air in my face, and the security of my warm 
berth in the back of that old Model T Ford. 


231 


UNION STATION BLUES 

By Wilma Snyder 

The station master's voice echoed in the dome 
of the Union Station in Tacoma as he called out 
the train stops: "Ellensburg, Yakima, Pasco, Spo- 
kane, Missoula, Cheyenne and all points east," he 
sang out in a funereal bass voice. 

The "all points east" was the phrase which trans- 
ferred eager anticipation into action. My parents, 
my twin sister, Florence, and I would then descend 
the gracefully curving marble staircase to the 
lower floor of the depot. As soon as I grew tall 
enough to reach it, I enjoyed running my hand 
along the highly polished brass rail that curved 
along the wall of the stairway. 

Downstairs we hurried to the windows to watch 
for the approaching train. We also watched for 
the sign, printed with the names of the cities we 
had heard upstairs, to be hung above a doorway. 
When the station master opened the sliding door to 
that stairway, he was opening the door to a lively 
adventure. 

Redcaps carried our suitcases and we caught 
glimpses of our checked luggage being pulled to 
the baggage car on large green carts with red 
wheels. 

Our family would walk along the platform, look- 
ing for the Pullman car identified on our tickets. 
Now the cars have numbers; then they had geograph- 
ical names indicative of the route the train was 
to travel. Our father, William Ittner, was a rail- 
way man and we were allowed to travel on passes. 
Berths were half-price, but we paid full prices 
for meals. It was with the utmost confidence that 
we followed our father down the platform. We 
trusted him implicitly to handle all the details 
of our trips. 


232 


We often traveled to Kansas where our parents 
had been raised. Each trip was a geography les- 
son. Timetables were available for passengers and 
our father taught us how to read them as we tra- 
versed almost two-thirds of the United States. 

A metal stool was always placed at the steps of 
the railway cars to help old or small legs up to 
the vestibule of the sleeping car. The porter 
opened the heavy door for us and after a short 
walk past the restrooms we were in the aisle, 
searching for our seat number. Our family usually 
reserved a whole section. Our mother and father 
shared the lower berth and my sister and I had the 
upper. 

The seats, upholstered in red or green plush, 
were scratchy and hot in the summer in the non-air 
conditioned cars. Ornate light fixtures which had 
been converted from gas to electricity swayed to 
the motion of the train. Frequent trips were made 
to the water fountains at each end of the car. The 
water was ice-cold, but the folding paper cups 
were quite flimsy. 

The coal-burning engines had a definite odor which 
seeped back to the passenger cars, and coal dust 
settled on the window sills. When stops were made 
time was allowed for taking on water for the engine 
and for the washing of the windows with long-handl- 
ed brushes. Stops were long enough at larger ci- 
ties to allow passengers to alight and take a 
stroll outdoors. It was a thoroughly relaxed and 
comfortable way to travel. 

At bedtime we undressed in the ladies' dressing 
room. A heavy green drapery covered the recessed 
doorway, which made for easier entry than a door 
would have been, with hands full of night-time ne- 
cessities. It was fun to get ready for bed and try 
to keep your balance while stepping into pajamas. 
Water in the stainless steel wash basins sloshed 
from side to side. There was also a tiny bowl 


233 


just for brushing teeth. This ritual was mundane 
at home, but a different experience on the train. 

I suppose there isn't a kid alive who ever rode on 
a train who didn't watch the ties rush by when the 
toilet was flushed. 

We usually watched the porter make up the 
berths. The mattress ticking was a silk material 
with red and green stripes. The bedding was tan 
and brown with a big letter "P" for Pullman in the 
center of each blanket. An extra sheet was used 
for a spread. A small green cord-hammock was sus- 
pended from hooks for bathrobes, slippers, etc. 

The porter would bring a carpet-covered step lad- 
der for my sister and me to clamber into the upper 
berth. We thought we were in heaven; we didn't 
mind that the top berth had no windows. We had 
our own separate light switch and Mother couldn't 
turn the lights out on us, as she did at home, if 
we wanted to read. You were supposed to call the 
porter if you wanted down during the night but we 
soon learned to climb down on our own. We felt 
sorry for the porter who had to sit up all night, 
waiting for calls. 

When we were sixteen, after the death of our fa- 
ther, my sister and I made a trip to Kansas by our- 
selves. For the first time we discovered a new ex- 
perience; sitting up in a darkened lower berth and 
watching lighted platforms at night-time stops. 
Trains were not so speed oriented in the 1930' s and 
frequent stops were made in cities, towns and even 
villages. 

Eating on the train was as exciting as sleeping. 
Our mother usually brought along a lunch for the 
first day of the trip which invariably included 
fried chicken. She must have been very busy pre- 
paring for a trip; washing and ironing clothes, 
packing, closing a house and still finding time to 
fry chicken. When we were ready for lunch we rang 
for the porter who brought us a folding table which 


234 


fit into grooves under the windows. 

The highlight of the trip was going to the diner. 
Glistening white table linen, shining silver and 
sparkling glassware made the dining car a spectacle 
to young eyes. Before we traveled by ourselves. 
Daddy always wrote out the meal orders. Amtrak 
still follows that custom of passengers writing 
their own orders. The meals were superb. Lamb 
chops were thick and juicy, with paper frills on 
the rib bone. The Northern Pacific specialized in 
extra large baked potatoes from Idaho. The butter 
was unsalted, sugar was almost as fine as the pow- 
dered variety and the cream was so rich its color 
matched its name. My favorite dessert was sliced 
peaches swimming in the rich cream. 

There were a few Harvey Houses in existence when 
I was very young. These were restaurants at speci- 
fic stops along regular routes. Passengers and 
crew would all debark from the train for meals. My 
memory hints of counters and stools and of eating 
in a hurry--a contrast to the luxury of the dining 
car. On our return trip from Kansas when we were 
four, we traveled to Texas and returned home through 
California. If I remember correctly, it was the 
Southern Pacific that used Harvey Houses. 

Going to the observation car in the evenings was 
an after-dinner treat. The black leather-covered 
chairs swiveled so as to allow passengers to better 
enjoy the scenery. Magazines in black leather cov- 
ers with titles stamped in gold were for the passen- 
gers' use. On one trip a tour group was on the 
train. They had a hostess who explained the pass- 
ing scenery, and the whole train enjoyed her ser- 
vices. We stopped and got out of the train at the 
site of the "Battle of the Little Big Horn" and 
heard her tell about General Custer. We learned 
some valuable history lessons as well as something 
about geography. 

On one trip on the Union Pacific which took us 


235 


through the Columbia River Gorge, there was an out- 
door observation car. Smoke and cinders drifted 
back from the engine, but we weren't a family to 
pass up any special accommodation. It was a chil- 
ly and dirty place to ride but it was part of the 
train bug which bit me at an early age. 

Men were sometimes provided with a special car 
where it was possible to be shaved-- if you were 
willing to trust your throat to a hand more exper- 
ienced in coping with the motion of the train. In 
my youth, there were no lounge cars as prohibition 
was enforced. Lounge cars were far in the future, 
and even then their services were discontinued 
while traveling across "dry" states. 

When the return was made from the observation 
car to the sleeper, the berths were usually al- 
ready made up. If not, you could watch the well- 
rehearsed routine of the porter as he made up bed 
after bed in a never-ending pattern. 

The men who supplied the portering services of- 
fered a good deal of ease and comfort to travelers 
as did the dining car attendants. They may have 
coveted those jobs during the '20' s and * 30 1 s , but 
circumstances changed after World War II as work 
in factories and military service widened job op- 
portunities. My memory of those pleasant men who 
went out of their way to make a trip a happy occa- 
sion is something which shall never be completely 
repeated. Cosseting passengers may be a thing of 
the past. I observed my father as he dutifully 
tipped the porters for their courteous service. 

My memories form a strong basis for an ongoing 
love affair with trains. Even when I could no 
longer ride on a pass, I continued to ride trains 
whenever possible. Denver, San Francisco, Los 
Angeles, Detroit, New York and Philadelphia were 
ultimate destinations of various train trips. I 
have traveled on Amtrak recently, in spite of dis- 
appointment with food services. But there is some- 
thing to be said for seeing the country at ground 


236 


level, arriving rested, having the opportunity to 
walk around, and getting acquainted with other 
travelers. 

At night, when I'm home, I can hear the whistle 
of trains as they proceed along the waterfront from 
Tacoma to Steilacoom. The whistle has a haunting 
tune, and I wish I were in a berth, being rocked 
to sleep by motion and by sound. 



Union Station in Tacoma, a treasure worth saving. 
Drawing by Myron Thompson, The Tacoma News Tribune. 


A BEASTLY BEGINNING 

By Mary Olson 


The pest house was on the corner of South 38th 
and Warner. My brother Bill was sent there in the 
winter of 1921 when there was a smallpox epidemic 
in Tacoma. I m sure they wouldn't have sent him 
home as soon if they had known that he was still 
contagious. Mother was pregnant and certainly 
wouldn't have chosen to have to struggle through 
another case of smallpox, especially with a new- 
born infant as the patient, but that's the way my 
life began. 

When Mother realized that Bill still had running 
sores on his body, she immediately started to clean 
house. She had no indoor plumbing, no running wa- 
ter, no washing machine; none of the things that 
today we take for granted to make house cleaning 
easier. Mother set to work with just strong soap 
and water, heated on the kitchen stove; a scrubbing 
brush for the floors, cupboards, woodwork; a gal- 
vanized tub and a scrubbing board for the clothes 
with a big copper boiler on the kitchen range for 
boiling the white things. After boiling them and 
scrubbing them she put them through two rinses, 
one clear and one with bluing in it, to make the 
white clothes even whiter. 

The washing was hung out on the clothes lines 
that stretched between the back door and the out- 
house that stood at the back of the lot by the al- 
ley. Alongside the clothes lines ran a walkway, 
convenient for hanging up the clothes or for find- 
ing your way to the outhouse on a dark, rainy night. 
The clothes were carried out in a big wicker bas- 
ket and when dry, carried back in, smelling wonder- 
fully of fresh air and sunshine. Dad had his work 
cut out for him, too. He fumigated, papered and 
painted. Thus, with plenty of hard work and lots 


238 


of elbow grease, they prepared the house for the 
baby about to be born. 

Many years later, during the Second World War, 
when I had to scrub down my house before bringing 
my baby home after a bout of scarlet fever, the 
memory of my mother, nine months pregnant, prepar- 
ing the house for my birth, gave me the strength 
to carry on and get the job done. I hope I've 
passed at least a little of that stick- to-it-i ve- 
ness on to my grandchildren. 

On January 21, 1922, my mother called the mid- 
wife and took to her bed in the back bedroom of 
the little house at 7819 South G Street. Dad cal- 
led the doctor. Who won out, I don't know but I'd 
bet on Dr. Hards letting Mrs. Travis, the mid-wife 
act as nurse while he delivered the baby - me. 

I was small and as soon as I was born, was wrap- 
ped in outing flannel and put in the clothes bas- 
ket on the oven door. The same clothes basket that 
all through the fumigating and cleaning had sat out 
on the grass under the clothes lines. Two weeks 
later I became the youngest person in Tacoma to 
have smallpox! By coincidence, a man in his nine- 
ties, also from Fern Hill, was the oldest person in 
Tacoma to have smallpox in that epidemic. He also 
survived. Now we no longer have to worry about 
many of the terrible plagues that used to strike 
children. My youngest granddaughter was one of the 
first babies not to receive the smallpox vaccine. 

The cure had become more dangerous than the disease. 

Mother said that I was covered with the pox so 
closely that you couldn't put the head of a pin be- 
tween them, but then she was always given to exag- 
geration. She got a prescription from the doctor 
for a salve containing boric acid to relieve the 
itching. When Dad brought it home from Cram's Drug- 
store, instead of using it on me at once. Mother 
tested it on her own cheek first. It burned her 
skin! Somehow instead of boric acid some other acid 


239 


had been used. Luckily I had a careful mother. 
Another lesson I used with my own children - I 
never used any medicine on them without tryinq it 
on myself first. 

Mother said I would turn blue when I was a baby. 
I never really gave any credence to this story. 
Mother loved to embroider the truth, and I figured 
she was exaggerating, as usual. Then one morning 
I awoke to find my two-week-old daughter in her 
bassinette with her skin a deep blue, and the area 
around her lips and eyes almost black. Scared me 
half to death! As soon as I touched her she open- 
ed her eyes and turned pink again. When I called 
the doctor he seemed to take it quite calmly. He 
just said that some babies sleep so deeply that 
they forget to breathe. Only then did I realize 
what my mother meant when she told me about her 
blue baby. Another oit of lore to pass on to my 
grandchildren. 


240 


STOP-OVER 


By Angel ine Bennett 


In the 1930's money was scarce, 
and walking our main locomotion. 

Fare for the streetcar was only a dime 
but obtaining a dime in those destitute days 
took a lot of intensive promotion. 

So we walked to the store 
and to school and to work 
and we walked to the parks and to shows. 

We walked all the trails going through vacant lots 
we walked with our girl-friends, 
we walked with our beaus. 

From Tacoma's east side to Tacoma's downtown 
was considered a trivial jaunt 
which provided a harmless excursion for those 
whose purse only jingled with want. 

About halfway there was the Union Depot, 
a magnificent place in its prime. 

We always stopped in to be awed by its size, 
touch marble, see redcaps, or just to kill time. 

Or maybe the stop was of serious import 
with timing a countdown to fractions. 

For, all those who walked knew the depot's 

restrooms 

were one of its major attractions. 


241 


JOSEPH WARTER SR., MY DAD 

By Madeline A. Robinson 

My Dad, Joseph Warter Sr., served as both father 
and mother to me. And oh! what a dedicated mother 
he could be. He pounded down the rising bread 
dough which was in a large pan in the warmer on 
top of the stove, the day Mother died. The next 
day he braided my pigtails like concrete streamers 
if there could be such a thing. He wanted to send 
me to school with my hair fixed just right. How 
it pulled and hurt. 

His quick and observing mind surprised many in 
his family. They did not realize the things that 
he noticed concerning their lives, but he always 
knew when something was wrong. He was 75 when he 
gave up his life in an accident, but he died on 
the road as he would have wanted it. 

,, Born in Europe, he carried into this country the 
old country" practice and ways of prudent living. 
His face was rigidly handsome with a well-thinned 
mustache, which added to his physical looks, out- 
shining his heavy face and hands. He was a stout, 
short and pudgy man in loose-fitting clothes. At 
times this description would not fit him. He was 
a sharp dresser on those occasions which required 
his presence as an important person in the road- 
building world. 

His hands were rough, muscular, sinewy, tanned, 
with unkempt nails. He was always willing to help 
with outstretched hands, with any type of machin- 
ery. These were the hands of my father as a busy 
man. His hands would search through his bulging 
pockets to find accounts of anything important. 
Perhaps it was a time book for a laborer demanding 
a checkup on his hours, or a check to be written 
for a discharge from a job or notes on specifica- 
tions to stir his memory. 


242 


In the pockets of his clothes he carried his 
figures and plans on any subject or project he had 
in mind. Notations, estimates, time and date book 
bulged from vest, suit-coat or overcoat pockets, 
depending on whether it was winter or summer. In 
this conglomeration one could find a checkbook 
which he had to carry if a laborer was fired or if 
someone asked for an emergency check. Why he did- 
not carry a case of some kind, I will never know. 
There was always a bundle of plans under his short, 
stocky arm. Sometimes, I believe that as his dau- 
ghter, I've inherited his way of sticking papers 
here and everywhere until a final day of seek and 
find. 

There were times when the sweet aroma of a good 
cigar encircled him, coming from the mild puffing 
of a constant enjoyment. He had times when he 
liked his smokes. On an evening when he attended 
his favorite "smoker" (fights at the sports arenas) 
he made sure he had a good cigar. His favorites 
were always in a box on the top of his desk. 

With his black Stetson hat, he was quite dis- 
tinguished in a crowd. His judgment on Studebakers 
and other cars was respected by car dealers. But 
his rough driving habits were not well thought of 
by the police or by the mechanics who cared for his 
cars. He never realized how he wore out parts to 
his cars through carelessness. In a rush to get 
parts after breakdowns and to get projects going 
again for the best use of machinery and men, he 
would forget speed limits and would have the law on 
his tail. In the pandemonium he would get the help 
of the city or state police and try to explain his 
way out of the situation. 

Another habit he had was to drive in the wrong 
gear or strip gears. Sometimes this happened after 
imbibing at the bar too long with his cronies. The 
bar men knew him well and made good tips off him 
when he treated others. Then came the problem of 
how to get him home without the car. They would 


243 


call my married brother who would walk to wherever 
his "haunt" was in order to drive the car and Pa 
safely home. 

Another idiosyncrasy of my Dad's was his unusual 
jokes, done mostly to please people. He never 
missed shopping and giving my step-mother some- 
thing nice on her birthday. Unfortunately, one 
time he was restricted to his bed because of bro- 
ken ribs from an accidental fall from a plum tree! 
He had attempted to prune a tree from the top and 
came tumbling down to the ground and needed help to 
lift him up on his feet and get him into the house. 
Jokingly, he asked my little brother, "Why didn't 
you hold your plum sack underneath me and catch 
Papa?" My stepmother's birthday cake was about to 
be served downstairs and he called me upstairs. 
Here, Madelena, take this to your Ma for her birth- 
day." On opening the package she found a beautiful 
string of pearls. He had called Mr. Burnett of 
Burnett Jewelers and ordered them a week before. I 
had picked them up for him after school, not realiz- 
ing why I had been given the check to pay Mr. Bur- 
nett. When my stepmother asked my father how he 
did it, he said he lay on a starter and hatched 
them for her while he had his stay in bed. 

His political donations and help to others yield- 
ed many favorable returns to him. Officials and 
police, both city and state, were always helpful in 
roadwork safety or in other ways -- like seeing him 
home safely when services were required in any car 
breakdowns. 

One of his daily habits was to blow the horn of 
the car as he came down Fife Street to let us kids 
know he was home. That meant helping him unload 
groceries and meats out by the gate, or running and 
pulling the back garage doors open in the alley. 

When he found himself safe and sound at home, he 
seemed relieved and would head for the house through 
the kitchen, leaving any special food he had pur- 
chased on the kitchen table to be fixed for him or 


244 


the family that evening. Then he would walk slow- 
ly to the dining room where the door was always 
open. He used the top of the door as a catch-all 
for heavy coats or his Stetson hat. Then he set- 
tled down at his desk or reading table in the liv- 
ing room. 

I remember my father vividly at the celebration 
of the opening of Martin Way, the old highway to 
Olympia. My father was not as good at speech mak- 
ing as he was at giving orders, but he was asked 
to make a speech. In front of the many dignitar- 
ies, he claimed that he was not a speech maker nor 
a lobbyist, but a roadbuilder. 

Men stood in line for job assignments during the 
time of WPA or PWA contracts when it was important 
to meet deadlines. Restrictions of needed require- 
ments by the government depressed him. At the time 
I believe WPA and PWA funds were used a great deal 
in rebuilding the economy. He put his experience 
to use in improving streets and roads. He believ- 
ed in good roads for farmers and travelers alike, 
and in keeping money at home in our country. 

He kept contractors and crews of as many as sixty 
busy. If not kept busy, the costs of idle machin- 
ery or of absent foremen and engineers when consul- 
tation was needed, were high. Steamshovel men were 
hard to find after being idle; their absence left 
the camps depleted, bookkeepers behind and new pay- 
rolls to adjust before a new start could be made. 

The years went by with tragedies, celebrations, 
successes and a few failures. He was entering his 
seventies when the first Narrows Bridge was being 
planned and bids were opened for the concrete 
bridge approaches. 

My father's bid was the lowest for the approaches 
but he was without his young son, who had been 
killed during the unloading of a heavy screeder 
that had fallen from a truck, striking him in the 
head and pushing him face down in the gravel. My 


245 


father's will to work had faded and my older bro- 
ther, his superintendent, and I convinced him to 
stop before he took on too much responsibil ity 
He sold all his equipment and his low bid to a 
contractor, his best friend and competitor. 


A caricature of Joseph Warter, Sr., in one of his 
many Studebakers. Courtesy of the author. 


After having bu’iW §ood 
fcaved roads Joe Warter 
$eVs real joy ouV of ridvncj 
over -foem \n Vis Bi6 S\* 
"STUOEBAKtK* 







To state that Mr. Warter is now driving his tenth Studehaker proves con- 
clusively that he is en --ly sold on Studcbakcr sturdiness. 


246 


THE DEPRESSION 

By Mary Olson 

When I was young we had a large house and I had 
my own bedroom. There were winter rugs that were 
taken up in the spring and replaced by straw rugs, 
the woolen rugs were beaten and placed in the at- 
tic. Curtains, too, were changed from heavy, dark 
drapes to light, airy, ruffled dimity or lace. 

Mother didn't work away from home. She was there 
to bake and cook and clean. We even had a washing 
machine with an electric wringer and I had my own 
electric iron which I used to iron pillowslips or 
tea towels when I was so small that I had to climb 
on a stool to reach the ironing board. We had an 
electric vacuum cleaner and even had running water 
in the house, which, believe it or not, many of our 
neighbors did not have. It was not hot water at 
first, cold water had to be poured into the "reser- 
voir" at the side of the kitchen stove and then 
dipped out for use in doing dishes or taking baths. 

I remember how tickled Mother was when we got a 
new cookstove that had coils around the fire box 
to heat the water, which then miraculously ran out 
of a second pipe in the pantry. 

The depression hit just about the time I started 
school. I don't remember any great changes. We 
had always had chickens, rabbits, a cow and a big 
garden. I guess the biggest difference was that 
Dad was home most of the time. He was a shingler 
and no one had money to have their roofs redone. I 
knew there was no money and sometimes my parents 
would quarrel about it. Instead of getting shiny 
new shoes with buttons up the sides to close with 
a button-hook, my shoes would be of a sturdier kind 
and when they needed repair Dad would take them out 
to the workshop in the back yard and re-sole them 
himself. He had metal lasts to hold the shoes and 
would cut and shape new soles, sometimes out of old 


247 


car tires. I thought it very clever of him it 
never occurreci to me that it was done of necessf- 
ty. When I needed a white dress to be in a n ™_ 

There°l had^^ 0 - 3 W ° Uld COme from Cana da.~ 
There I had cousins who had a little girl just a 

dres es 0 J?d r m . 71 ? f and her ha "d-*e-down 
beautiful! JU 6 ‘ 1 th ° U9ht they were 

Eventually Mother had to go out to do housework 
in order to have enough money to feed us This 
made Dad furious but I don ' /suppose tSere wa 

either of them could have done about it 
She worked for many different families, all in the 
north end, of course. There was, in my mind a 
definite class difference between the people’who 
lived in the north end of Tacoma and those who 
lived in the south. I can't remember any of the 
names of the people she worked for, except for a 
Mr. and Mrs. Lesher, who lived somewhere in the 
Sixth Avenue district. When she first went to work 
there Mrs. Lesher told her that it wasn't necessary 
to iron the whole of Mr. Lesher' s shirts. "Just do 
the fronts and the collars and cuffs," she was 
told. He never takes his coat off at work and so 
you needn t do the whole shirt." 

Mother was scandalized! For as long as she work- 
ed there Mr. Lesher's shirts were properly ironed- 
all over! 

I remember going after school one afternoon to a 
house out in the Sixth Avenue District where, ap- 
parently, Mother was taking care of the children 
overnight. At any rate, she and I spent the night 
there and I got to play with their little qirl 
When it came time for bed Mother allowed me to ‘take 
a bath with the little girl in their, to me, very 
posh bathroom. We had no bathroom at home. Baths 
were taken in a wash tub in the kitchen in front of 
the open oven door so that was my first experience 
with bathing in a real bath tub. They even had a 

getting^et* ^ t0 W63r 3 Ca ^ t0 ^ ee P my cur ^ sfrom 


248 


Mother also worked one evening a week at Hoyt's 
Doughnuts on Sixth Avenue. She wouldn't get home 
on those nights until 9:00 p.m. and then would put 
the bread in the oven that she had mixed in the 
morning before going to work. I can remember wai t- 
ing up till "all hours" to get a piece of that hot 
bread when it first came out of the oven. 

People did whatever they could to make a bit of 
money to provide for their families. At one time 
Dad took all our phonograph records and went door- 
to-door, trying to trade them with other people 
for one of their records plus five cents. Mother 
was furious! Our records were all very nice and 
quite expensive, bought before the depression hit, 
while those Dad traded them for were much inferior! 
Poor Dad, he tried everything he could think of to 
make money. 

One time when we owed a three month light bill 
and couldn't pay it, he rode in one of the light 
company trucks to Lake Cushman and worked there 
for two weeks, pushing wheelbarrows through the 
tunnels. Another time he worked off a doctor bill 
by working with the doctor's gardener somewhere 
over on Brown's Point. He also got a temporary 
job working on a sewer line on McKinley Hill near 
Forty-Second Street. 

We kids did our bit by gathering all the fruit 
from the empty houses in the neighborhood. I know 
now that they were homes that had been lost because 
the people who owned them had no money to pay their 
taxes, but at the time it just seemed that having a 
great many vacant houses in the neighborhood was 
natural. That's just the way it was. We gathered 
fruit and berries from wherever we could and Mother 
canned them, with sugar if we could afford it at 
the moment, without it, if we were short of money. 

I can remember as a very young child, wandering 
all over Fern Hill, gathering dandelion roots to 
feet our rabbits. That is one plant that we used 


249 


every part of In the spring we would gather the 

first flowers for Mother; great tubs full, to be 

turned into dandelion wine. The leaves were also 

^ hen T J he ^ were y^ng and tender and used 

a S ?]^V The roots were gathered later in the 
year, into big gunny sacks. 

When I came home from school my brother Bill 
would be there to care for me. He had to drop 

h^iJh SC 5°2V n u the seventh 9 rad e because of poor 

hpi^M dld n! /hat he could around the house to 
help Mother. At sixteen he got a job at a dairy 

where he would be working out in the open air and 

n^ii d -t:?n 9° od » 1 nourishing food. I think he was 
paid $10 a month. 

I was a terrible tom-boy and after school, as 
soon as I could do my dusting which was my daily 
chore, I would be off to the woods to climb all 
the trees of which I could reach the lower branch- 

? S hJ n ? t0 . bein 9 Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn. 

I had two best friends, one a very feminine little 
girl, Connie Aikins, who loved to play with dolls 
and sew, and the other, Florence Sanders, who was 
as big a tom- boy as myself. We didn't need money 
to have fun. We made doll clothes out of scraps 
from our mother's sewing baskets and drew endless 
dresses for our paper dolls. I considered myself 
quite a designer. The Sears Roebuck cataloq was 
my reference book. We were all at home in each 
other s houses and no one ever seems to have won- 
dered where we were or what we were doing. Mother 
sometimes wouldn't get home before 9:00 p.m. but 
the chores always seemed to get done and the meals 

prepared. I suppose Dad did a lot of it but I 
never noticed. 

We had total freedom to roam the countryside at 
will. Apparently no one ever worried about us 
We would take our bikes and head out to Spanaway 
Lake to swim or wander through the woods there 
We would sometimes stop at Shebik's Dairy in Park- 
land, where Bill worked, and were always welcomed 


250 


and usually fed. If it was a fall week-end when 
they were gathering apples for cider, we would 
spend our day helping and watching the men put 
them through the cider press, telling each other 
horror stories of the worms that went through, 
right along with the apples. We never seemed to 
run out of exciting things to do. I sometimes 
feel sorry for my grandchildren who are so watched 
over and restricted. But of course, the times are 
different and it's no longer possible to let chil- 
dren run wild and care free. What a shame! 

In summer the family was always alert to the 
danger of fire on the acreage next to the house. 

Once the whole field, as we called it, was burned 
over one summer day. I doubt if anyone knew what 
started it. Dad and my brothers and all the men 
and boys in the neighborhood fought it with wet 
gunny sacks and shovels. It burned right up to the 
dining room windows, destroying the bl ackberry bush- 
es on that side of the house. The field was about 
three blocks by four, from 79th to 82nd and 6 Street 
and east from G to about D Street. 

We pastured our cow in the field which I think 
was owned by the Koykendahls. They lived on Park 
at what would have been 79th if it had been cut 
throggh. I thought they were rich. Of course, I 
thought anyone was rich who had a man in the house 
who was working and a mother who wasn't. 

Fern Hill was dotted with cow pastures and in the 
summer we girls would often take our lunch and have 
a picnic with the birds and bees. A picnic to us 
was nothing fancy... a few blackberry jam sandwiches 
and some stolen fruit was enough. We had wonderful 
imaginations and would create our own exciting 
worlds without any help from radio which was almost 
unheard of, or television, which was unthought of. 

We used to put on plays upstairs at one of the 
neighbors'. We got the idea from "Little Women" and 
decided if they could do it, so could we. I don't 


251 


remember any of our plays being any great success 
We coerced the littler kids into being the audien- 
ce. Our plays had no plots. We just dressed up 
in our mother's old clothes or even draped our- 
selves in old curtains, a la Grecian maidens, and 
sang and danced and had lots of fun. 

We read every book we could come by. I even 
read Mother's set of books by Mary Baker Eddy. Not 
that I understood them, but they were something 
different to read. Mother would often take me to 
the Carnegie Library downtown, when I was so small 
that she had to pick me up to help me onto the 
streetcar. I'll never forget the tiny Peter Rab- 
bit books which in my mind were just the right 
size for a child's hand to hold. 

We waged many a war against the boys, using 
"rubber guns" that they had made for us. Rubber 
guns were made of odd scraps of wood and used sli- 
ces of inner tube for ammunition. My brother John 
even made rifles that shot these stinging missiles. 
There was a spring clothes-pin attached to the top 
of the handle or grip of the gun, with small rub- 
ber bands or strips of leather. The piece of inner 
tube was about one inch wide and eleven or twelve 
inches around. I spent a good part of my life 
dodging behind trees in the woods or flat on my 
belly in the pasture, trying to give back as qood 
as I got. 

The boys also carved boats from scrap lumber and 
of course, made slingshots from the forked branches 
of the trees. I treasured for years a willow-whis- 
tle that John had carved for me. 

We worked hard and played hard and grew and flo- 
urished freely in the great outdoors. I never rea- 
lized until now in my later years, just how fortu- 
nate we were. 


252 


THE FLEET'S IN!! 

By Jack Sundquist 

It usually happened in July and it was called 
"Fleet Week." The newspapers would print the 
schedule of events and the names of the ships in- 
volved. The Tribune for Monday, July 19, 1937 
stated that the Tennessee, New Mexico, Nevada and 
Oklahoma were in port and that the West Virginia 
was due on Wednesday. They anchored in Commence- 
ment Bay and remained for a week. During the week 
visitors were allowed between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. 
daily. Persons below the age of 15 had to be ac- 
companied by a parent or relative, which led to 
many short-term adoptions. The large, open launch- 
es left from the Municipal Dock under the 11th 
Street Bridge and long lines of patiently waiting 
persons stood in the hot sun. 

It was worth the wait to finally scramble into 
the large boats which had a number of seats. The 
sailor at the tiller would ring a bell and we would 
be off. There seemed to be different rings for 
different operations of the engine. We would head 
out with a wave breaking from the bow and rolling 
off to each side. As we neared the towering gray 
ship we could see steps leading up the side. 

The boat was snubbed to the bottom of the steps 
and sailors helped people to step onto the bottom 
landing, young ladies were especially helped. When 
you reached the top of the steps and stepped on to 
the deck you were impressed by the cleanliness of 
the deck with its fine black lines between the deck 
planks. One could wander from the upward sloping 
bow down past the silent looming 16 inch guns to the 
rounded stern where a flag hung. It was fascinating 
to climb and descend the stairs and go through the 
interior of the ship and its different compartments. 
The ships were always in impeccable condition and 


253 


the sailors were always friendly and courteous. 

In July they wore their summer white uniforms and 
their tanned faces under their crimped and tilted 
sailor caps together with their bell-bottomed 
trousers, made the Tacoma girls swoon. My sister 
met and married a darkly handsome Texan from the 
Tennessee in 1939. Many romantic twosomes were 
initiated on the ships during visiting hours Vi- 
sitors could visit most areas of the ship except 
those deemed security areas. Then they made their 
way down the steps to the waiting boats, listened 
to the ding-ding of the boatswains mate's bell 
and watched the big ships fall away astern. There 
were many enjoyable memories taken home from a 
visit to a battleship and one of the last was the 
vista of white-capped waves and blowing spray and 
entranced children's faces as the boat crossed 
the bay and returned to the Municipal Dock. For 
many it was the only trip on the water they would 
ever make. 

There were special events during Fleet Week, 
dances were held for the enlisted men at places 
like the Crescent Ballroom; the Admiral would 
speak at the Rotary Club and officers would be 
feted at the Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club. Each day's 
Tribune would list the events: "All colored en- 
listed men are invited to a dance Tuesday night 
at the Colored Elks Club at 1529 South Tacoma Ave- 
nue read one announcement. On Saturday a parade 
was held in downtown Tacoma with bands and march- 
ing troops then the next day's Tribune would fea- 
ture a picture layout of the event. 

The California, West Virginia and Tennessee were 
heavily damaged at Pearl Harbor on December 7 , 1941 . 
The Oklahoma was capsized and the Nevada beached 
when it tried to escape. My brother-in-law had 
been discharged in September in San Pedro, Calif- 
ornia. His enlistment ended in December but the 
Navy decided that by discharging him early they 
would save the money they would have had to spend 
to send him from Hawaii back to the States. 


254 


On December 7 he was working in a gas station on 
Twenty-sixth and Pacific. He had been a gun cap- 
tain on an anti-aircraft gun on the upper works of 
the Tennessee. All the men on that gun were kil- 
led in the attack. 

Many Tacomans today can look out on Commencement 
Bay and recall those tall gray ships that repre- 
sented the defenders of the United States sitting 
in the bright sunlight of a summer's day. 


255 



Harry Anderson, doorman 
Theater, early 1900's. 
Bennett. 


on the right, at the Shell 
Courtesy of Angel ine 


256 


"LET'S GO TO THE MOVIES!" 

By J. Smith Bennett 


"Let's go to the movies!" Whenever my father 
made that statement, which wasn't very often, mo- 
ther and I would scurry about getting dressed. We 
were going downtown to the MOVIES! Dad would back 
the car from the garage and we'd head for the Pan- 
tages or the Orpheum as it was then known. Mother 
and I would wait by the uniformed doorman while 
Dad bought the tickets. From the foyer we could 
hear the mighty pipe organ pouring forth its ac- 
companiment to the action that was taking place on 
the silver screen in the auditorium. There would 
be times when the music would fill us with such 
excitement that we could scarcely contain ourselves 
while waiting for the usher with his flashlight to 
show us to our seats. 

For the next several hours we would be transport- 
ed into a world of make-believe from the screen, 
from the stage and the theater itself; an opulent 
setting of thick carpets, plush seats, gilt paint 
and mirrors reflecting the prisms of light from 
crystal chandeliers. It was always with great re- 
luctance, when the performance was over, that we 
filed back into our everyday world. Little wonder 
that Helen Hokinson drew her cartoon for the New 
Yorker of a small girl standing in the lobby of New 
York's Roxy Theater asking, "Mommy - does God live 
here?" 

"You ain't heard nothin' yet!" What a thrill 
when we heard A1 Jolson speaking those words from 
the screen of John Hamrick's Blue Mouse theater on 
Broadway. But those words sounded the death knell 
for one of the greatest of musical instruments - 
the theater pipe organ which could sound like loco- 
motive whistles, sleigh bells or Gary Cooper clear- 
ing the skies of German planes in "Lilac Time." 


257 


There wasn't a dry eye in the theater when the or- 
ganist swung into "Jeannine, I Dream of Lilac Time" 
as Colleen Moore pulled Cooper from his crashed 
airplane. 

The organ eventually was used only for an inter- 
lude between pictures. One organist, "01 lie" Wal- 
lace, who later became musical director for Walt 
Disney Productions, would race down the aisle of 
the Broadway Theater, dressed in a Prince Albert 
coat and pin-striped trousers, leap upon the seat 
of the mighty pipe organ and for the next few min- 
utes we would be charmed with his virtuosity on 
the Wurlitzer. Then, all too soon, the spot light 
would dim and the organ would sink into the depths 
of the orchestra pit and we were back to "canned" 
music. 

The snack bar - a fairly recent innovation in 
theaters - was brought on by lagging ticket sales. 
When theaters were filled almost to capacity, con- 
fections were usually purchased from nearby shops 
or at a popcorn machine in the entrance of the 
Jones Building. When Maurice Tourneur's film, 

"The Last of the Mohicans," played the Liberty The- 
ater on Pacific Avenue, mother felt this was the 
type of film I should see. No doubt its author, 
James Fenimore Cooper, had something to do with it. 
It was difficult to wait for the opening of the 
theater's doors that Saturday morning, especially 
since I could hardly contain myself from wanting to 
sample a whopping bag of popcorn that I had prepar- 
ed the previous evening. Having popcorn left after 
the first show, I decided to see it a second time. 
The clock on the wall did little to keep me from 
being engrossed with the film on the screen. I al- 
so felt I'd rather wait for my mother here than in 
her beauty shop. About the time Wallace Beery, as 
Magua, was creeping up on Cora for the third time, 

I felt a hand upon my shoulder and a voice whisper- 
ing, "Come on! It's time to go!" Looking around, 

I could see my mother standing there in the reflect- 
ed light from the theater's screen. "Hey! Wait a 


258 


minute! You'll like it," I told her, moving over 
into the vacant seat next to me. She sat and 
watched the rest of the picture. I started to 
get up to go and she motioned me to sit still, 
with "I'd like to see where I came in." When we 
left, mother indicated the far lobby door, ex- 
plaining, "I didn't pay. I just told them I was 
coming in to get you." 

Later those films which had been shown at the 
downtown theaters began their neighborhood thea- 
ter runs. Ours was the Sunset Theater, on the 
southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Prospect. 

All week family films, news reels, a comedy, per- 
haps a "Felix the Kat" cartoon were shown. On 
Saturday afternoons exciting films were run as 
serials. I was a bit young for Pearl White and 
Eddie Polo, but I did see Ruth Roland, Arlene Ray 
and Walter Miller. My favorite was Charles Hut- 
chison, the "King of the Daredevils," who rode a 
motorcycle across a burning trestle, raced trains 
to crossings and grasped the under carriage of an 
old biplane just as his canoe was about to go ov- 
er a waterfall. Twelve chapters of watching our 
heroes" battl i ng such diabolical characters as 
"The Black Mask," "The Wrecker" or "The Silent 
Avenger" took up many a Saturday afternoon. There 
would always be a secret code that would unlock 
the mysteries of the universe. It didn't matter 
what the mysteries were, just so our hero escaped 
all those fiendish traps "The Wrecker" placed in 
his path. I had always wished to see a serial in 
one sitting. I finally did. During the time I 
was collecting old motion pictures, I purchased a 
copy of what had been salvaged of Charles Hutchi- 
son's first serial, "Wolves of Kultur." Never 
again! Black coffee and tooth picks (to keep our 
eyes open) did little to keep us awake. 

Television killed vaudeville! While it lasted 
we had the opportunity to see singers, tap-dancers, 
jugglers, comedians and magicians on the stage of 
the Orpheum. Fanchon and Marco Revues would play 
the Broadway, starring headliners like Eddie 


259 


Peabody and his banjo. Whenever he played Tacoma, 
there would be a special Saturday morning show for 
the Boy Scouts. Your uniform or membership card 
was your admission. Five acts of vaudeville play- 
ed the Orpheum until its name was changed to the 
Roxy. I guess Tacoma tried to emulate New York. 
Emory Whitaker, a boyhood pal and I, would meet 
downtown every Saturday, have lunch at the Mecca 
Coffee Shop on the corner of Thirteenth and Com- 
merce, then take in the Orpheum. Getting in be- 
fore one o'clock, we'd see the vaudeville show, 
the movie and then sit through the vaudeville 
again, all for twenty-five cents. 

"Preview Tonight!" So read the advertisement 
in the Thursday edition of the Tacoma News Tribune 
back in the early thirties. The advertisement 
went on to explain that those who attended the 
last showing of the film on Thursday evening were 
invited to partake of free coffee and "Melo-cream" 
doughnuts on the stage, after which they would be 
shown the next attraction. My attendance was pre- 
dicated upon whether I had my home work completed, 
no tests on Friday, my chores done and which of my 
friends would be going. Oh, the titles did have 
something to do with it, although my wife claims I 
will watch anything that moves on the screen. Once 
while waiting for the show to break, several of us 
made a dash for the sofa in the upper lobby of the 
Broadway Theater. In the melee one of our group 
slid under Guy Tennant, who found himself sitting 
on the floor. At that moment, a police office of- 
ficer stepped from the Men's Room. Since Guy had 
not changed from his paint-spattered khakis and 
ragged sweater, he was the one the officer hustled 
from the theater. It had a most sobering effect 
on the rest of us and we quickly decided to lose 
ourselves in the darkness of the auditorium. Walk- 
ing down the grand staircase, who should we see 
strolling into the lobby of the theater but our 
rag-a-muffin friend. We were all ears as he ex- 
plained, "He was going to run me in but when he 
asked my name he wanted to know if I was related to 


260 


the mayor and I said, ‘Yeah, he's my uncle.'" 

Bank Night - Dish Night - Double Features, Three 
D, none had the effect of luring the audience from 
their living rooms once television got under way. 
The few theaters that stayed open found the going 
extremely tough. Some had face lifts by uninspir- 
ed interior decorators whose only contact with the 
movie palaces of yesteryear was from hearsay. We 
have made the complete circle of "storefront" 
theaters. Perhaps today they are cleaner, cooler 
and may smell nicer and projection is "flickerless" 
on screens that are the last word in peripheral 
vision. Sound comes from all directions but the 
buildings are drab, antiseptic, earthbound, and 
cost more than the original "nickelodeans. " And 
then, what if the picture is bad? Huh? 

The movie palace, the colossus of opulence, has 
made way for the bowling alleys, supermarkets, 
parking garages and office buildings. The lucky 
few who have survived the "wrecker's ball" have 
become theaters for the performing arts, like the 
Pantages. But they will never again take on that 
wonderful aura that prevailed when my father would 
stride into the living room and say, "Let's go to 
the movies!" 


261 


HOLLYWOOD-BY-THE-SEA 

By J. Smith Bennett 


"Lights... Camera... Action!" Titlow Beach was 
to be no/nore! From now on, it was "Hoi lywood-By- 
ine-bea. Film making was to come to the Northwest: 
Tacoma, to be exact. 


In the mid-twenties, a consortium of local bus- 
inessmen felt since Hollywood was producing a ser- 
ies of outdoor adventure films, the Northwest 
would be an ideal location. Sets and backgrounds 
for the James Oliver Curwood and Rex Beach stories 
were so obviously false, these men reasoned, why 
not shoot the films here, where so much raw coun- 
try abounds. Deep forests, big trees, raging ri- 
vers and miles of unparalleled snowfields on our 
mountain. . .Mt. Tacoma. 


Harvey C. Weaver, a Hollywood producer, alonq 
with several local financiers, acquired six acres 
of property in the little community of Titlow 
Beach, located at the west end of Sixth Avenue. Up 
to that time, Titlow Beach's only claim to fame 
was a dock and a ferry landing from which one 
could go to Wollochet Bay or Fox Island. All this 
was to change. Once the studio was built and into 
production, this would be the Beverly Hills of the 
Northwest. 


Across Sixth Avenue from the present Titlow 
Beach swimming pool, a studio was built, reported 
to contain the largest floor space without support- 
ing pillars. Three films were produced: "Hearts 
and Fists, Heart of the Yukon" and the most pre- 
stigious of all, "Eyes of the Totem." "Hearts and 
Fists was a story of logging and loggers: trees 
falling, floating of logs down the river, the in- 
evitable log jam and a runaway logging train; all 
taken^up around Mineral and Elbe. "Heart of the 
Yukon was as its name implied, the Yukon. Dog 


262 


teams, claim jumpers and such, most of it taken 
at Paradise Inn with its great snowfields. 

I recall visiting the studio one Sunday after- 
noon with my parents. It was here Tacomans had 
their first glimpse of a motion picture studio 
and a back-lot set... a Yukon town street scene. 

Were we surprised to find it was all front; a 
flat. If one stepped through the saloon door, it 
was a long way to the ground. Nothing but braces 
holding the building front in place. There was 
no interior; that was inside the studio. We could 
not get over the cotton being dipped in melted 
paraffin to make the icicles which festooned the 
eaves. Little did we know that so many times the 
imitation photographs better than the real thing. 
Also, the studio did not have to worry about the 
icicle melting under the hot arc lamps. Here was 
a camera platform, there a track down the center 
of the street for dolly shots. Large silver re- 
flectors stood about near the various light stan- 
dards. Perhaps a tree branch was fastened to a 
cabin roof either for effect or to cast a needed 
shadow. 

John Bowers, a leading matinee idol of the per- 
iod, along with Tom Santschi of "The Spoilers" 
fame, played in several of the pictures. Bowers 
was the actor who, several years later, committed 
suicide by swimming out into the ocean from his 
Malibu Beach house. The episode was later portray- 
ed by Frederic March in the first film of "A Star 
Is Born" with Janet Gaynor. 

"Eyes of the Totem" was the last film produced by 
the H.C. Weaver Studio; starred Wanda Hawley, Tom 
Santschi and W.S. Van Dyke, who also directed the 
film. There was a scene in which a supposedly 
blind beggar was sitting on a bench in front of the 
Tacoma Totem Pole. That was when it was located at 
Tenth and A Street. A team of runaway horses came 
up Tenth Street, a small girl who had just pulled 
the beggar's fallen garter, stepped off the curb 


263 


directly into their path. The beggar dashed into 
the street, saving her from disaster. This scene, 
perhaps ten seconds of screen time, took several 
days to shoot. Those of us not knowledgeable to 
the ways of motion picture production, were amaz- 
ed at the time it took. Different angles, wait- 
ing for the right light, the correct shadows, per- 
haps a change in the action. It was over and over 
and over and wait, wait and more waiting. We just 
couldn't understand; it had all looked good to us. 

We had to laugh when the police raided the "Chi- 
nese Garden," a gambling house and cabaret. The 
Winthrop Hotel was used for the exterior. The 
police drove from the City Hall Annex, or the old 
Northern Pacific Headquarter Building (now Pacific 
One) to raid the "Chinese Gardens" - perhaps two 
blocks real distance. Down Pacific Avenue raced 
the police cars. Between automobiles, around 
street cars, missing the Eleventh Street cable car 
by inches, turning left on Twelfth to A Street, 
back up to Ninth Street, a left and back over Pa- 
cific Avenue and racing up Ninth with a turn to 
the right on Broadway and screeching to a stop and 
with guns drawn, rush into the "Chinese Gardens" 
nee the Winthrop Hotel. By under cranking the 
camera, it speeded the action on the screen, mak- 
ing for a thrilling illusion of racing through 
city traffic. 

I doubt that the pictures ever played outside of 
the Tacoma area, although "Eyes of The Totem" is 
listed in "Woody" Van Dyke's bibliography. I do 
recall seeing it at the Tacoma Theater as it was 
known before it became the Broadway. Later John 
Hamrick renamed it the Music Box. That ended Ta- 
coma's bid to be the Hollywood of the Northwest. 
Hollywood did use the Northwest later for the Ri- 
chard Barthelmess picture, "The Patent Leather 
Kid." The war scenes were shot at Camp Lewis as 
it was known then. 

The studio stood empty for years, unused. Some- 
times in the early thirties, it became a ball room 


264 


or a dance hall. I remember going out there one 
evening with Jack Shipley, who was an announcer 
at KVI, along with Corwin Bonham. Since Jack was 
an announcer, we were given a card for Corwin's 
car which read "Remote Control." This gave us 
the right to exceed the speed limit out Sixth Ave- 
nue... all of thirty-five miles per hour. About 
the time I left Tacoma, 1932, the studio caught 
fire and burned to the ground. 

Tacoma's face has changed with years of suburban 
sprawl. It's difficult to go back and relive 
those wonderful years of the twenties. Like 
dreams of the early pioneers, "Hoi lywood-By-The- 
Sea" faded like the finale of a film. Titlow 
Beach remained a residential community at the end 
of Sixth Avenue. 


265 


ST. LUKE'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH 
AN ATTRACTIVE NUISANCE 

By J. Smith Bennett 

It was, as they say today, "an attractive nui- 
sance." At least, to a small boy exploring his 
new neighborhood for the first time. Mother and I 
had just moved into a two room flat in the old 
Webster Apartments on the corner of South 7th and 
St. Helens Avenue. It was my first Saturday of 
not having a back yard in which to play and the 
YMCA for my age group, had not yet opened. 

I was wandering - perhaps exploring might be a 
better word for it -- when a stone building cover- 
ed with ivy that almost reached to the top of a 
one hundred foot spire caught my eye. The inscrip- 
tion on the cornerstone read "St. Luxe's Episcopal 
Church, founded in 1882." Since the building had 
the appearance of being abandoned, I felt it re- 
quired a small boy's investigation. Looking both 
ways, up and down Broadway, I stepped up into the 
church yard that had seen better days. What pro- 
bably had once been a neatly trimmed church yard 
was now completely choked with weeds, some forcing 
themselves up through the cracks in the broken con- 
crete walk along the side of the church. Both 
carved entrance doors were ajar; one had been 
wrenched off and was hanging by one hinge. An oc- 
casional bird would flit in and out through a bro- 
ken window. Apprehensively, I climbed the steps 
leading to the entrance and peered into the vesti- 
bule. It was empty! Furtively looking about, hop- 
ing no one was looking, I noiselessly slipped in- 
side. The area was illuminated by the half open 
doors and what was left of the stained glass win- 
dows. 

The doors leading into the chapel had been pulled 
from their hinges; one was lying on the floor and 
the other was propped against the wall. I had a 


266 


feeling of utter desolation as I stood there in 
the subdued light that filtered into the chapel 
through the broken windows. The interior of the 
church had been subjected to the most violent van- 
dalism imaginable. I was reminded of pictures I 
had seen of bombed out churches, published by Col- 
lier's of World War I. Looking toward the altar 
I could see hymnals scattered everywhere. Pews 
were overturned as though someone had pulled them 
over as he ran down the aisle. The altar had been 
smashed and the lectern was askew. I slowly walk- 
ed toward the front of the church, my shoes leav- 
ing marks in the layers of dust. I could see the 
pipe organ, too, had received its share of the 
vandal's depredations. Ivories had been torn from 
the keys; various stops had been pulled from their 
sockets; and the foot pedals had been pulled, kick- 
ed and broken for what seemed no reason. Some of 
the pipes had been pulled, bent and smashed, lying 
about the organ alcove like fallen trees in a wind 
storm. 

Looking back from the altar toward the entrance, 

I had an eerie feeling that something very sacri- 
religious had taken place; one didn't do such 
things to a church. The swallows, flitting about 
and roosting on the ceiling beams, did little to 
dispel the feeling that I had to escape from this 
dark and dank building. I was frightened! I did 
not want to be caught within the church; I was a- 
fraid I might be the one blamed for the reprehen- 
sible acts. Quickly I dashed to the front en- 
trance and peered out into the street. I pulled 
back! A Pt. Defiance streetcar was passing by. 
Then, seeing no one in either direction, I scooted 
down the steps and out onto Broadway, trying to 
blend like a chameleon into the surrounding area. 

I said nothing to my mother about my escapade and 
never explored St. Luke's again. In all my remain- 
ing years in Tacoma I never gave it another thought 
although I passed it quite frequently. 


267 


Several years ago we were invited by Fran Borhek 
the wife of an old boyhood friend, Edward or "Bud" 
Borhek, to attend St. Lukes' Antique Show. As we 
entered the parish house, I looked over toward the 
church building and remarked that it looked very 
familiar. There was something I could faintly re- 
member about the past. 

"Well, it should," said Fran, "it was an old 
landmark in Tacoma for a number of years. You 
must have remembered St. Lukes Episcopal Church 
on the corner of 6th Avenue and Broadway." 

Then, it all came back; that Saturday morning 
sixty years ago when I had wandered through a de- 
serted church, wondering why it had been abandoned. 

St. Lukes had been originally built in 1882 with 
the cornerstone being set by Annie Wright, daugh- 
ter of Charles B. Wright, who had done so much for 
the City of Tacoma. The original design had been 
taken from a small English parish church that had 
been admired by the Wrights during one of their 
visits to England. It took over a year for the 
plans to be finalized by a Portland architect, 
whose name has long been forgotten. It must have 
been a difficult decision for the parisioners to 
abandon their church when commercialism was en- 
croaching upon their domain and join with the 
Trinity group to become Christ Church. 

Because of continuing vandalism it was decided 
to tear down the small stone church that had so 
long been a Tacoma landmark. As with so many pub- 
lic buildings, whether used or not, a cry went out 
to "Save St. Lukes Church." A committee was form- 
ed and it was through the undying efforts of two 
churchmen. Reverend Arthur Bell of St. Lukes and 
Bishop Lemuel H. Wells of St. Marks, that the 
church was saved from the wrecker's ball. Money 
was raised, the building purchased, and now the 
problem was to move it. The land at 6th and Broad- 
way was too valuable to house an unused church, so 


268 




move it they did! Like William Randolph Hearst's 
Castle, St. Lukes was taken apart stone by stone. 
Each stone was numbered, catalogued and then reas- 
sembled on the corner of North 38th and Gove 
Streets, a piece of property owned by St. Marks. 

In 1947 it was finally finished and rededicated 
with a plaque set in the parish lawn reading, "St. 
Lukes Episcopal, founded in 1882." The church is 
a bit larger than the one I wandered in on that 
Saturday morning long ago. A second transept was 
added in addition to increasing the size of the 
left transept, lengthening the chancel by 18 feet 
and permitting the accommodation of the choir. A 
"rosette" was placed in the entrance which con- 
tained several mementos from various Episcopal 
churches from around the world. Pebbles from the 
Sea of Galilee and a stone from King David's pal- 
ace in Jerusalem were also added. Of all the me- 
mentos that are the most noteworthy are pieces 
from the original communion table that survived 
the depredations of the vandals to the original 
St. Lukes Episcopal Church. The rediscovery of 
the church recalled to me the time when I as a 
small boy, peered into its musty shell when it was 
a very "attractive nuisance." 


269 


I WON'T BE NEEDING A WINTER COAT 


By Doris Moris set 


The place was Bel 1 i ngham--the time was Fall of 
1963 and I had asked our daughter, Patty Lou, to 
go shopping for a winter coat. Her answer was she 
didn't want one, which was a switch, but she 
didn't explain why. In December she told us she 
had applied for admission to the Dominican Sisters 
Order in Tacoma. We were glad for her when she 
was accepted. The following summer she worked for 
Sears in Bellingham to earn the money for clothes 
she would need for three years. 

She was very excited when we took her to Mt. St. 
Dominic, formerly Haddaway Hall of the Weyer- 
haeuser mansion, on September 8, 1964. She would 
be a postulant, then a novice and would get the 
full habit when she received the black veil. She 
took the name Sister Mary Noel. She finished her 
education at Seattle University and prepared 
herself for teaching. Her first teaching assign- 
ment was at Assumption Parish School in Seattle. 
Because Patty was a musician the Order gave her 
music lessons. She played the piano, organ, 
trumpet, and later took up the guitar and the 
string bass. She taught at Marymount Academy 
before that school was closed in 1976 and later 
spent three years in the Kairos House of Prayer in 
Spokane. She returned to Tacoma and at present is 
an assistant at St. Patrick's Church with respon- 
sibilities mainly in liturgy. She also conducts 
retreats and promotes vocations. 

The Dominican group in which Sister Mary Noel 
took her training was the first of that Order in 
Washington Territory. In 1888, in response to an 
invitation from Bishop Junger for sisters to teach 


270 


in Washington Territory, Sisters Mary Thomasina, 
Mary de Chantal and Mary Aloysia come from Lima, 
Ohio to face unknown hardships in Pomeroy, 
Washington. The sisters wanted to start a 
religious community as well as a school, and 
Sister Thomasina, who was in charge, soon realized 
that a larger town was needed for their plans. 

In 1892 the pastor of St. Patrick Church in 
Tacoma, Father William Edmonds, petitioned Sister 
Thomasina (now Mother Thomasina) for teachers. He 
had erected a small frame church (on rented ground 
at the corner of Tacoma Avenue and Starr Street) 
and with the assistance of two young ladies of the 
parish had been holding classes in the back of the 
church. A curtain was hung between the altar and 
the section used for the school. This was the 
first free parochial school west of the 
Mississippi. 

Mother Thomasina accepted Father Edmonds' 
request, came to Tacoma in 1893 and purchased 
property at the corner of North G and Starr 
Streets with the intention of building a school. 

By July 6, 1894, she had settled a small group in 
a house on the purchased property which she had 
converted into a convent and named St. Catherine. 

A carriage house was remodeled into a boarding 
school known as St. Rose's. Shopkeepers from 
Tacoma provided furniture and thus the Dominican 
Sisters of the Congregation of St. Thomas Aquinas 
in Tacoma had its humble beginning. 

In 1893 The Tacoma Land Company wished to 
reclaim the land which they had rented to St. 
Patrick's Church, so the Sisters offered the other 
end of their school property to the parish free of 
rent. The original frame church was moved and 
the parish bought the site in 1899. The first six 
grades continued having classes in the Church but 
the upper grades were taught at St. Rose's. When 


271 


Aquinas Academy was built across the street from 
Mother Thomasina's original purchase, the girls 
attended school there and the boys continued 
meeting at the rear of the church and in St. 

Rose ' s . 

Mother Thomasina was loaned $16,000 at two and a 
half percent interest from an Alexander McDonald 
who had been successful in the Alaska Gold Rush 
to build Aquinas Academy at 1112 North G Street 
Construction began on May 22, 1899 and by Sep- 
tember 17, it was possible to move furniture and 
equipment from St. Catherine's and St. Rose's. 
Aquinas Academy held classes for girls from the 
elementary grades through high school. The con- 
vent and the school were both housed in the five- 
storied building but by 1906 more space was needed 
and a convent was built to the northeast of the 
building and a separate music building was added. 

A training school preparing sisters to teach was 
started in 1912 but was discontinued at the out- 
break of World War I. A Miss Mary E. Doyle con- 
ducted education classes for the Sisters from 1912 
to 1923 but a trend was developing for sisters to 
get their teacher training at the University of 
Washington and the Bellingham and Ellensburq 
Normal Schools. 

The Spinning residence located on the Pinkerton 
property purchased in 1899 was moved to the rear 
of the property. In 1901 it began to be used as a 
dormitory and school for boys eight to twelve and 
became known as St. Joseph's. In 1907 the old 
Lowell School (a frame building) was purchased and 
moved to the original site for non-boarding boys 
It was named St. Edward's Hall. 

A new three story school, adjacent to the 
present site of St. Patrick's Church, was built in 
1919 for both boy and girl day students of the 
elementary grades. The sisters staffing the 


272 


school lived in the Aquinas Convent until 1940 
when a house and a lot across from the school were 
purchased by the parish and remodeled into a 
convent. 

In the 1940 ' s the Dominican Sisters purchased 
Haddaway Hall from George Franklin, owner of a 
grocery store chain. The Hall originally had been 
a home for one of the Weyerhaeuser families, a 
name prominent in the lumber industry in the 
Pacific Northwest. Originally it was used as a 
junior college, then closed in 1948 as a school, 
but retained as novitiate. 

An innovative idea for a girls' summer camp was 
started in 1936 on 7 acres of land leased from 
George Marvin on Spanaway Lake. The Sisters 
purchased three surplus street cars from the City 
of Tacoma. The wheels were removed, the cars were 
set on the ground and converted into recreational, 
sleeping and eating quarters. The camp continued 
until 1950 when vandalism forced the closure of 
the camp; responsible caretakers could not be 
found during the winter months. 

A new Aquinas Academy building was built on the 
old G Street site and operated as a girls' high 
school until June 1974 when classes were trans- 
ferred to Bell armine, previously a boys' high 
school. The classes from St. Patrick's were 
transferred to the more modern Aquinas Academy. 

A Senior Citizen program, the Lifelong Learning 
Center, was conducted in the deserted St. 

Patrick's School from about 1980 until 1985. Now 
the building stands empty but remembered by many 
Tacoma citizens who had their early schooling 
there. 

The life of the Dominican Order has undergone 
many changes. The sisters are no longer required 
to wear habits; their government is more demo- 
cratic; they elect their own officers at regularly 


273 


scheduled elections; they are no longer engaged 
only in teaching and they have a voice in choosing 
their own area of work. The most liberal of all 
changes is the permission for sisters to choose 
their own living situations rather than being 
assigned to convents. 

From their first entry into Washington Territory 
in 1888 to aid in the education of the young, 
there has been an enlarging view in the Dominican 
Order of how people can be served. Education is 
just one of their present services. Social 
services are offered, the elderly being of special 
concern. 

Sister Mary Noel, now known by her baptismal 
name, Sr. Patricia Morisset, has seen a great 
number of changes in her Order since she 
pronounced her vows in 1966, and she and her 
contemporaries have lived through twenty-four 
years of challenge. They are presently 
celebrating 100 years of service in the Pacific 
Northwest. 

Sources for this essay include: 

Sisters of Saint Dominic 1888-1951, by 
Mary Rita Flanagan, Seattle, Washington, 
1951. 

All The Way Is Heaven , by 
Katherine Burton, 1958. 


* 


274 


This picture goes with the 
story on the following page. 



Mary Edna Binder Svinth, mother of the author, 
circa 1903, Pierce County, near Rocky Ridge. 
Courtesy of the author. 


275 


INDIAN MEMORIES OF MY CHILDHOOD 

By Cecelia Svinth Carpenter, 

Indian Historian 

I was born near the beginning of that twenty- 
year period tucked in between World War I and 
World War II, 1924 to be precise. Being the 12th 
child of a family of 13, I was named Hope Cecelia 
Svinth, the Cecelia after my Indian grandmother, 
the Hope because, as I was told later, my mother 
hoped" I d be the last child. Her hope was not 
fulfilled until my brother Paul was born in 1927 
to complete the family unit. My father was a Dan- 
ish emigrant, who 8 years before my birth, had be- 
come a Lutheran pastor. My mother was of Nisqual- 
ly Indian descent. Mine was a most interesting 
family to be born into. As I grew up I had the 
best of two cultures, although I was not to real- 
ize this until I had become a grown woman. 

Our family lived on a 20 acre farm in southern 
Pierce County, located about 7 miles east of Roy 
in the Lacamas community. With such a large amount 
of mouths to feed, my father raised about every 
kind of vegetable, fruit and berry possible. Pigs 
cows, horses, sheep and chickens were also part of 
the farm scenery. Every winter our food supply 
was supplemented with salmon caught in Horn Creek 
and the Nisqually River. We had a large farmhouse 
with bedrooms big enough to house several beds 
each. Our barn was huge with a place for cows and 
horses and room for a hay mow in between: a fine 
place for noisy kids to play on rainy days. I 
learned to jump from the high rafters to the hay 
below before I was old enough to know better. Two 
chicken houses, a granary, a garage, two outhouses 
(one for the boys and one for the girls), a smoke- 
house, two root cellars and a woodshed completed 
the array of farm buildings. 


276 


Adorning our hillside below the house were two 
enormous orchards, one for apples only, the other 
full of pears, prunes and plums. One lone Bing 
cherry tree stood beside the house on the side 
which housed the girl's bedroom. We could go out 
the bedroom window onto the roof of the flower 
room below and into the cherry tree to sneak cher- 
ries or to go night walking, temptations that often 
got us into trouble. 

There were three gardens; the one I remember most 
was located down the hill near a natural water 
supply. Hay fields surrounded the farm buildings 
with patches of woods on the eastern and southern 
edges of our property, beyond were old-growth tim- 
ber stands. On the outer edge of one hay field 
was an acre of raspberries and a like-size field 
planted in strawberries. The berry patches were 
located a good distance from the house. I was 
told that that spot had been chosen because it was 
a sunny area and near a swampy marsh. 

I remember the garden and the berry field best 
because, as the fifth and last girl in the family, 
the kitchen duty spots had been filled, and, as 
soon as I was old enough to work, I was assigned to 
weed in the gardens with my older brothers and in 
the summertime to pick those endless rows of ber- 
ries. Bringing in the daily supply of kitchen 
firewood was later added to my list. I didn't 
mind my duties, I loved the outdoors and still to- 
day feel out of place in the kitchen. Being out- 
doors meant I always had plenty to eat. Raw car- 
rots and turnips tasted good, the berries were 
plentiful - both tame and wild, and the wild plants 
such as the licorice fern were better than most des- 
serts. I was also guilty of raiding the canned 
goods shelves and the apple bins in the wintertime. 

Our berry field was a scary place to be. It was 
nestled next to the wooded marsh where the wild 
salmonberries grew. When sent out to pick berries, 
I would often wander into the thick underbrush to 


277 


pick and eat salmonberries. However, the bears 
also loved these juicy berries and were known to 
frequent the marsh. If alone, I always imagined 
a bear standing a few feet away; the snapping of 
a twig or an unknown noise would send me scurry- 
ing out of the woods. I cannot eat a sal monberry 
to this day without thinking of bears! 

Speaking of wild berries, we had plenty of wild 
blackcaps, red huckleberries, wild blackberries 
and wild strawberries that grew in the logged-off 
places in the woods behind the farm. My very ear- 
ly memories of picking wild berries were of going 
with my mother to pick blackberries. I was the 
one to go with her because I was usually outside 
and because I wasn't needed for household chores. 

I can still see my mother with big lard pails tied 
onto each side of her waist and held in place with 
a belt or rope in the same manner as the Indian 
women, who sometimes joined us, tied thei r baskets . 
Climbing over logs and bending to pick the wild 
blackberries seems to hold a more solid mental 
picture of my mother in my mind today than any 
other task she may have done. She was of medium 
to short stature with the broad shoulder span of 
the Nisqually. Her hair was dark, always combed 
back from her face; her eyes were calm and serene, 
unless angered, then they blazed. I enjoyed these 
outings because out there in the woods I didn't 
have to share her with a dozen other members of 
the family. There she was mine alone. When we 
were tired we would sit o n a fallen log to rest. 

It was then that she would relate many of her In- 
dian remembrances, of being born on the reserva- 
tion, of her mother dying when she was too young to 
remember her, of her Indian grandmother Ross who 
spoke the Nisqually language fluently, of her many 
Indian relatives, of the kind people who raised 
her and of her marriage to my father when she was 
but 15 years old. I felt very close to my mother 
during those times, more so than at any other time 
in my lifetime. 


278 


All of "us kids" grew up in tune with the order 
of the natural world. We learned to appreciate 
the birds, the wild animals and could identify 
almost every flower and plant that grew in our 
woods. We learned which plants were edible and 
which were not. The mushroom was the only grow- 
ing thing we were told to stay away from - because 
my mother didn't know which were good and which 
weren't. To this day I won't eat mushrooms for 
that reason! I remember when we worked in the 
flower garden. Never, oh never, would my mother 
discard a plant. Everything was a living entity 
to her and must be cared for. She would not throw 
out a sickly looking plant any more than she would 
throw out a sick animal. I was a "sickly" child 
as I grew up and could appreciate her thinking. 

In my free time I often wandered around the 
farm and nearby woods. I knew where the Johnny- 
Jump-Ups grew, where the Lady slippers chose to 
appear and where the Trillium's hiding place was. 

I had secret places where I would disappear and 
hide but could still hear if I were called home. 
There I would dream of what I would someday be- 
come. My older brothers were beginning to leave 
home and get jobs and I knew that I, too, must 
one day go somewhere. 

I grew up with a speech impediment and could 
not speak clearly enough to be understood well. 
Consequently, I grew up in a world of silence, 
speaking very little and listening a great deal. 

In the house my favorite place was behind the 
kitchen stove, sitting next to the woodbox. I 
would tuck my knees under my chin, lean back a- 
gainst the wall and keep out of the way of all 
the feet of my huge family. Interestingly enough, 
no one seemed to question my "place" or my sitting 
there so much of the time. It was from my sitting 
place that I was to listen to the endless family 
discussions. It was from this place that I was to 
learn who I was. The kitchen was the focal point 
in our house. It was a large room detached from 


279 


the main house by a short covered breezeway. I 
understood it was built this way because of the 
danger of fire. Although it was later remodeled, 
my memories of this first large room remain very 
vivid. Because it was a warm place in the winter 
with the cook stove fire going constantly, it was 
the gathering place of my family. It was there I 
tuned into the conversations about religion, farm- 
ing, Denmark and Indian affairs. It was during my 
listening years that I formed opinions on all these 
subjects. 

I listened to the repeated conversations regard- 
ing the loss of a large portion of the Nisqually 
Indian Reservation that had taken place in 1918. 
Pierce County had condemned and taken all of the 
reservation land that lay on the Pierce County side 
of the Nisqually River, leaving the Nisqually In- 
dian tribe with about a third of their original re- 
servation which lay across the river on the Thurs- 
ton County side. The land was given to the United 
States Army to be used with other parcels of land 
for a military base. The saddest part of the 
whole affair was that our two family allotments 
were on the portion that was condemned; one belong- 
ed to Grandmother Ross, the other to her mother, 
Quaton. Grandmother Ross died the year of the con- 
demnation, Quaton much earlier. I was told that 
the tribe tried to get the decision reversed after 
World War I ended but their request had been de- 
nied. Hearing the events of the condemnation re- 
peated many times, left a lasting impression on my 
mind. I could not understand how anyone could take 
our Indian land without permission. I absorbed the 
intense and hurtful feelings from my family, and, 
adding my great-grandmother's death to my package 
of woes, I carried this burden with me and still 
feel the hurt of my people losing their land. 

As one can see, I learned very early about my In- 
dian heritage. Oh, my Danish father had brought 
many of his old country customs with him to America 
and those memories are still very precious to me, 


280 


but it was from my quiet, self-assured mother, a 
red bandanna always tied around her forehead to 
hold down her unruly dark hair, that I absorbed 
the customs, culture and history of the Nisqually 
Indian people. There seemed to be a silent ab- 
sorption of her vibrations that took place within 
me. I sensed her feelings and thoughts and made 
them my own. This was a most interesting phenome- 
non because, in looking back to my childhood years 
and then to the present, I realize today that I 
was destined to be the one of her large brood who 
would carry her message to the non-Indian world - 
I, the one who couldn't talk and the one who could 
not enter into family discussions. 

It was not popular to be an Indian, or even a 
half-breed, in those days. It was okay to be Dan- 
ish or to be Lutheran but not to be an Indian, es- 
pecially one who held to some of the old tradi- 
tions and mixed with the Indian community. Many 
families of mixed-blood melded into the mainstream. 
But this was not to happen to us. I always felt 
my mother used my father's position in the commun- 
ity to protect her and her children. She dressed 
properly and tried to act as a minister's wife 
should as long as no one offended her heritage. If 
this happened, and I remember that it did more 
than once, she could become quite angry. 

During those early years I learned that we de- 
scended from the same family group as our Nisqual- 
ly chief, Leschi , who was raised in the Mashel In- 
dian Village near Eatonville. Chief Leschi became 
the war chief of the allied tribes during the In- 
dian war that followed the inactment of the Medi- 
cine Creek Treaty of 1854. I learned that the 
treaty did not provide an adequate reservation for 
the Nisqually Indian people, but that after the 
war, the territorial governor changed the location 
of the reservation to the present location on the 
Nisqually River. Chief Leschi was tried by the 
territorial court system for his part in the war, 
was found guilty and was hanged. The idea of the 
authorities putting Leschi to death for fighting 


281 


for a better reservation for his people horrified 
me. By the time I was six years old, Chief Leschi 
was my hero. I realized that the very land that 
Leschi had died for had been condemned in 1918 and 
as he was buried on the portion that was taken, 
his remains had to be moved. My mother used to 
say, "And don't you ever forget it!" I was not to 
forget. 

As the years passed, my future continued to be 
shaped, each time span adding new insights and 
broader areas to my understanding of what I had 
learned at home. I entered Lacamas Elementary 
School in 1931 and became an avid reader. School 
brought me in contact with other "part-Indian" fam- 
ilies from other tribal affiliations. We often 
shared information on our heritage backgrounds. 

Our tribal histories were oral histories. Very 
little Indian history was to be found in our his- 
tory books. I realized that if I were to learn 
more about the history of my mother's tribe I must 
learn it from listening to our Indian relatives 
and friends who came to our home to visit. 

During my sixth year of schooling I stayed at my 
older sister's home near Yelm and went to school 
there for a short time. My brother-in-law drove 
the school bus. Each morning we drove out to the 
Nisqually Indian Reservation to begin our route 
by picking up several Indian students. There I 
made many new friends and was exposed to reserva- 
tion life, a warm and friendly situation like the 
one in which I had been raised. I did not know 
then that when we all grew up we would be working 
side by side within the tribal structure. Nor did 
I realize as I visited with the elders, that one 
day I too would be an elder. 

My trips to the Cushman Indian Hospital in Tacoma 
for health care broadened my horizons as to the so- 
cial and health concerns of my people that existed 
in the 1930' s. When my younger brother enrolled as 
a student at the Chemawa Indian School near Salem, 


282 


Oregon, in the 1940‘s, I lived in Salem for awhile 
to be near him. I visited Chemawa on a regular ba- 
sis and there learned of the government Indian 
school system and the concerns relative to Indian 
education. Later, back home, I would attend the 
reorganizational tribal meetings at Nisqually with 
my mother. It was in 1945 that our tribe adopted 
its first constitution, the one that continues to- 
day to govern our Nisqually people. 

My mother, Mary Edna Svinth, died in March of 
nineteen-sixty-three. She passed on one night in 
her sleep, serene and peaceful. She wasn't here 
for the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 or the 
Boldt Indian Fishing Rights Decision in 1974. She 
wasn't here to see me graduate from Pacific Luth- 
eran University in 1966. She wasn't here to fol- 
low my teaching years which opened the door to my 
writing career. I dedicated my first big writing 
project to her in 1971 - my master's thesis on the 
Nisqually Indian Fishing Rights. Now, fifteen 
years and four books later, I often look at her 
photograph and envision her looking back at me and 
saying, "Well, I see that you didn't forget what I 
taught you!" No, Mother, I haven't. 


283 


MY ENCOUNTERS WITH FREDDIE STEELE 

By J. Smith Bennett 

There is always something that triggers one's 
memory and recalls past events when paths cross. 
Like the time I noticed a headline in the local 
paper, "Freddie Steele Making A Comeback." It had 
been years since I had thought about him. I re- 
membered him from a gym class at Jason Lee Inter- 
mediate School. That must have been back about 
nineteen-twenty-nine. His muscular development in 
comparison with the other teenagers in the class 
made him stand out like a junior Charles Atlas. He 
exuded a sort of self-satisfaction and confidence 
that seemed to say, "Don't push ME, bud! I know 
how to use my 'dukes'! I can take care of myself! 
I'm Freddie Steele." We gave him a wide berth at 
school. We had heard by the corridor gossip that 
he was appearing in local "smokers" and others 
that were farther away, like Burien and White Cen- 
ter. He was known as a "killer" so we really wat- 
ched ourselves whenever it came to fisticuffs. 

Whenever we played touch football on the play- 
ground, he was always the ball carrier; there 
would be others who could quarterback, or handle 
pass plays. No one wished to display his prow- 
ess against Freddie Steele. He was always a grand 
stander! Made no difference whether on the field 
or in the gym, it was always the same. "Give me 
the ball! Block those other guys and I'll make 
the scores." 

I recall one day when he was having trouble. Just 
couldn't seem to get going, three downs and he had 
gained practically no distance. His problem was 
ME! Any athletic ability I had only existed in my 
mind. I was just one of those average, ineffect- 
ual teenagers to whom no one paid much attention 
on the playing field. Because of this, I was able 
to get through the line and "tag" Steele before he 


284 


could get started. In his grand-standing way, he 
refused to pass the ball to anyone, although there 
were many opportunities to do so. He just wanted 
to run. Since no one paid any attention to me, I 
was able to penetrate his line of defense and had 
broken up the last three plays. It was now fourth 
down and nine yards to go and the gym period was 
about over. Just as he was about to give the 
"hike" signal for the ball, he looked over in my 
direction, pointed and yelled, "Smear that kid in 
the white shirt, the bastard keeps getting in my 
way! " 

I was never one for contact sports and shied a- 
way from athletics unless it was absolutely neces- 
sary. This probably disappointed my father, who 
was a real sports buff. If it was baseball, I was 
always a fielder; in soccer, a guard; or a 'sub' 
when it came to football. I liked to play 'scrub' 
baseball out in the vacant lot. We'd choose up to 
see who was to be at bat; then play rotation all 
day. Aside from that, whenever we had anything 
like boxing or wrestling at school. I'd get it over 
with as soon as possible. Once in a while if my 
opponent was my size or smaller, I might go the 
1 imit. 

There was this one day when the gym teacher lined 
us up alphabetically, selecting opponents from both 
ends of the line. As so frequently happened, I 
would draw Freddie Steele. While waiting our turn 
at whatever, he turned and with the back of his , 
right hand, gave me a "chop" in the throat. Right 
in the Adam's apple. A "rabbit chop!" Stars flash- 
ed! The pain was excruciating. Tears welled up in 
my eyes; I couldn't cry, not in front of my peers. 

I couldn't seem to swallow! And he just stood 
there with that sneering smile and said, "Now you 
can spit cider for a week!" 

I hated him! I hated Freddie Steele with a ven- 
geance. I swore that somehow, some way, some day. 
I'd get even with him. I had no idea how. But 
somehow, it would be accomplished. 


285 


Over the years I followed his career in the 
ring through the sporting pages. His climb to the 
championship of his division, his retirement in 
nineteen-thirty-eight, and then trying for a come- 
back to regain his crown. The come-back trail is 
long and arduous and he had to fight a number of 
youngsters, many who were second raters. One was 
Jimmy Casion, a fighter Freddie could have taken 
in the first round, back when he was in his prime. 

I was excited when I heard Steele would be fight- 
ing in the Hollywood Legion Stadium. Since I had 
moved to the Los Angeles area some years earlier, 

I checked with my cousin, who was fight knowledge- 
able, and bought a ringside seat. I awaited the 
bout with great anticipation: that night I was 
going to redeem the indignity of that "rabbit 
chop" received long ago in the gym of Jason Lee. 

Once the introductions were over, the two con- 
testants faced each other and the fight started 
amid the cheers of the crowd. There were those 
loyal to Steele, cheering him on. Then, there was 
me! I was cheering for Casino, hoping in my way 
to get back at Freddie Steele for that long ago 
act of indignity. Slowly Casion started to take 
Freddie Steele's come-back attempt apart. Round 
by round the decisions went to Casion. With every 
punch that Jimmy gave Steele, I cheered. "Take 
that! And that! And that!" I was savoring every 
blow like a gourmet tasting a new culinary delight. 
As Steele reeled about that smoke-filled arena, I 
cheered louder and louder. Then in the fifth 
round the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. 
Steele had run out of gas! He couldn't go on. His 
legs had just given out. The decision went to Jim- 
my Casino, a second-rate boxer. 

It was over! Somehow I was redeemed! I felt 
that through Jimmy Casion I had gotten even with 
Freddie Steele for that infamous day on the gym 
floor back in Tacoma. 

As always, we mellow with the years. We foget! 
We forget all those animosities we held. Then, one 


286 


day something comes along and we are taken back 
into the past. Wandering about Westport one cold, 
blustery winter day, I noticed a sign on the front 
of a building: "FREDDIE STEELE'S RESTAURANT." It 
was closed. Those days of Jason Lee flooded my 
memory. Sometime later, a headline in a local pa- 
per caught my eye, "FREDDIE STEELE , EX-MIDDLEWEIGHT 
CHAMPION, LOSES FINAL BOUT AT 71." 

My cousin, who had battled his way about the ring 
during his university days, said, "You should write 
about taking that "rabbit chop" from Steele. There 
are not too many about these days who can still 
talk about it." 

I'm not too sure. I doubt Steele ever would have 
remembered that kid in the white shirt who was 
lousing up his grand-stand plays, or took the 
"chop" in the qym and I know he wouldn't have known 
the guy who was cheering Jimmy Casino in the Holly- 
wood Legion stadium way back on May 23, 1941. 


287 


MANUFACTURING GAS 

By Amel ia Haller 

There were several reasons why we moved to South 
Tacoma in 1950. My reasons included the closeness 
of Edison Elementary and Robert Gray Junior High 
Schools for our children, Pam, Larry, and the un- 
born baby I carried; Sonneman's Grocery Store was 
only two blocks away; and behind our house Wapato 
Hills waited for exploring children to run and fan- 
tasize in the open space. 

Max, my husband, had other reasons. He had spent 
his childhood in the South Tacoma and Manitou 
areas. His parents, Alice and Ray Haller, brought 
him to Tacoma in 1925 from North Dakota, when he 
was one year old. Max remembered South Tacoma as 
his childhood home. (It is a strange feeling to 
walk the sidewalks between 62nd and 66th on Oakes 
Street and step over MAX finger-written in the 
concrete. ) 

When we examined the house at 6001 So. Fife 
Street we knew we had found a home that fitted our 
current purposes. In August we moved from Puyal- 
lup to Tacoma in one trip. Using our 1942 Chevro- 
let - a World War II Army car - and my brother's 
vehicle. Max and relatives loaded our possessions 
into the two cars and we became Tacoma residents. 

I would have loved to have arranged the cup- 
boards, hung curtains and done the many pleasant 
chores associated with moving into a new home but 
besides being pregnant I was ill with pneumonia. 

Dr. McCabe of Puyallup had given me the new drug, 
penicillin, and warned me to rest and come back to 
his office daily for more shots. If I didn't I 
would have to be hospitalized. Without a word my 
sister-in-law, Mabel Anderson, came over to our 
new home and arranged our meager possessions in 


288 


enough order so that Max and I could manage for 
awhile. 

There was another reason that Max and I had 
looked in South Tacoma for a home: It would be 
closer to his work. He had been hired as a labor- 
er in 1946 for The Washington Gas and Electric 
Company of Tacoma at 101 South 10th Street. His 
first duty was to clean out clinkers from gener- 
ators at their gasification plant at 2200 River 
Street. The job was dirty and smelly. After coal 
and oil were burned in generators to manufacture 
the gas, clinkers were left in the bottom and they 
had to be cleaned out every other day. Although 
showers were provided for the men at the plant, 
the unpleasant odors clung to Max's clothes even 
after I washed them. 

We were extremely happy when Max became gas op- 
erator. This meant a raise in pay which we sore- 
ly needed, plus easier working conditions for him. 
As gas operator he actually manufactured the gas 
that was piped out to heat the homes and business- 
es of Tacoma, to cook foods and to run factories. 

Max explained his new job. "We used old car 
seats that the company had set up for us to sit 
on," he said. "In front of us were seven levers 
that we learned to operate in four-minute cycles. 
Our actions combined coal and oil to make gas. 

When we emptied the huge buckets of about a ton of 
coal into the generators that contained burning 
coal, we'd always have a blow. That is, the coal 
and dust would blanket the fire in the generator. 
When it ignited there would be a huge boom that 
shook the entire building." 

These jobs sounded dangerous to me. And they 
were. Caution had to be used in both of the areas 
that he worked. At first he didn't tell me of the 
dangers. Later, when I pressed for details he told 
me, "When I was a laborer we cleaned out the puri- 
fication tanks. (These were tanks that contained 


289 


wood chips to purify the gas.) We could only stay 
in the tanks for about five minutes at a time or 
we would pass out. We went down in the tanks, 
two men at a time, for safety. We didn't have 
gas masks and fumes from the gas were so bad that 
sometimes a man would pass out and the other man 
would call for assistance to help them out of the 
tank. The only way out was to climb a ladder up 
the inside of the tank." 

As gas operator he had to be cautious about oth- 
er things. He said, "There was always the danger 
of someone getting badly burned because of not be- 
ing alert around the open fires. Our work clothes 
had spot burns on them." Since his work clothing 
was left on the job I never saw the burned holes. 
He told me not to worry because everyone was very 
careful . 

After Max had worked as operator for some time, 

I became puzzled at the many novels he was taking 
to work and the exchanging of paperbacks with oth- 
er operators. When I asked him, he said, "I know 
those seven levers so well that I can press them 
in the right sequence and time slots without hard- 
ly thinking." 

He went on to say that he leaned back in the car 
seat and read. Then he would look up in time to 
push the correct levers with his feet. I was hor- 
rified. He quickly assured me that it was not 
dangerous and that he had everything under control. 
Evidently he did because he was praised for his 
work many times. 

The manufacturing plant and the gas-telescopic 
holders were torn down years ago. The company be- 
came Washington Natural Gas Company and had no use 
for the manufacturing equipment. Now, as Field 
Representative and after forty years of service 
for Washington Natural Gas, Max hesitates at pub- 
licly telling the story of making manufactured gas 
by pushing levers with his feet while readinq a 
novel ! 


290 


RELIGION, SYMBOLISM AND TRADITION 
IN TACOMA’S GREEK COMMUNITY 

By Katheren Armatas 

On December 6, 1985, the St. Nicholas Greek Or- 
thodox Church celebrated its 60th Anniversary. It 
was a most fitting day for it was also our patron 
saint's name day; Saint Nicholas, who was the pa- 
tron saint of fishermen. 

Our Tacoma Greek Orthodox Church, located on the 
corner of 16th and South Yakima Avenues, has re- 
cently received a piece of Eastern Orthodox Church 
decor; a bishop's throne. It was a parishioner's 
gift given as a loving memorial to her departed 
family members. Many of religious symbolic church 
articles, such as icons, mosaics, candlelabra, 
baptismal font, holy altar pieces, stained glass 
windows and other significant Orthodox and Byzan- 
tine objects, were lovingly donated by other mem- 
bers as memorials. 

A Tacoma News Tribune article quoted the Rever- 
end Nicholas Kusevich, then St. Nicholas' priest, 
"The bishop's throne, to be used by a bishop or 
archbishop during his parish visit, is a symbol of 
the church's apostolic tradition. A double eagle 
carved in the throne is one of the throne's sym- 
bols, signifying both the Byzantine Empire and 
Christianity." 

Hundreds of hours of thought and energy were 
spent by wood craftsman Cliff Murphy of Buckley, 
on this magnificent and regal two hundred pound 
throne of pine, maple, oak and poplar wood. The 
design, based on photos of bishop thrones of Greece 
and Asia Minor, gave the craftsman a great chal- 
lenge. The throne's religious Eastern old-world 
significance will merge with our Western, modern- 
world church to balance and enhance the beauty of 
the Lord's house, in this Orthodox Church. 


291 


For seventeen centuries the official center of 
Orthodoxy was in Constantinople, Turkey. The con- 
quest of Constantinople (later called Istanbul) by 
the Ottoman Empire in 1453, did not crush Ortho- 
doxy, for today the Patriarchade is still there. 

In the 12th Century East and West drew apart. The 
Eastern Orthodox Church came under the authority 
and leadership of the Patriarch in Asia Minor; the 
Roman Catholics under the Pope in Rome. 


For me, a special once-in-a-1 ifetime event oc- 
curred at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church of Tacoma, 
in the 1930 s. When I was about three years old 
I remember seeing the then Archbishop of North and 
South America lift up to his six-foot-plus heiqht, 
my five-year-old brother, Angelos Sarantinos, for 
m ' essi ng . Archbishop Athenagoras exclaimed. 

You 11 be strong like Jim Londos." (He was a 

champion wrestler of Greek descent popular in the 
United States.) 


Our community didn't know then that the Archbi- 
shop would become one of the best known and great- 
ly loved patriarchs of all time. The chasm be- 
tween the West and East was bridged on January 5 
and 6, 1964, in a historic meeting in Jerusalem 
when the two great leaders, the Ecumenical Patri- 
arch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI, embraced. The 
foundation of a closer collaboration and brother- 
hood was established. 

St. Nicholas Church in Tacoma was dedicated on 
April 5, 1925. Its founders, mostly single men 
from different regions of Greece and Asia Minor, 
had competed to raise building funds. The most 
numerous group, the Gallemians, from Gallemi Vil- 
lage, Marmara Island (off the Turkish coast near 
Constantinople) raised the most money and won the 
honor of naming the church. My father, Lascos Sar- 
antinos, and my uncles Steve Victor and Sofianos 
Christakis, were part of the Gallemians who chose 
the name St. Nicholas after their Gallemi villaae 
patron saint. 3 


292 


Hard work, determination and fortitude had been 
realized. Now the Greek Community had a house of 
worship in which to participate in the Sacraments 
of communion, baptism and marriage and to pray for 
the living and their departed loved ones. The 
church was their contribution to the city of Ta- 
coma, the state of Washington and their American 
dream. 

These daring Greek immigrants perhaps had the 
same visions and dreams as a young Greek sailor, 
Apostolos Valerianos, better known in our Pacific 
Northwest as Juan De Fuca. In 1592, before Lewis 
and Clark ever penetrated the Northwest, Valeri- 
anos sailed through the straits between Vancouver 
Island and the yet unnamed Washington state. Now 
nearly 400 years later, the Greek Community of Ta- 
coma has made its imprint also. Most of the 
church founders and elders are gone but holy tra- 
ditions, like the bishop's throne, are passed from 
generation to generation. The worshippers of today 
can enjoy the symbolic religious objects enhanced 
by flickering candles and burning incense. They 
can feel the warmth of love their ancestral church 
founders gave to the Lord and to them. 

At St. Nicholas the icons, both mosaic tile and 
oil paintings, adorn the interior walls of the 
church, inviting the faithful to a worshipful med- 
itation of God. He is portrayed in a fresco paint- 
ing looking down from heaven on the assembled con- 
gregation to hear their prayers and to remind them 
of His all-pervading presence. 

Descending from the ethereal to the practical, 
the floor of the church represents the world. The 
icon screen separates the nave (church center) from 
the altar. It is symbolical of the temple veil in 
the Old Testament which separated the Holy of Holi- 
es from the remainder of the temple. The royal 
doors on the icon screen are so called in view of 
the fact that Christ, the King, is carried through 
them as the priest brings Holy Communion to the 


293 


congregation. Two large candelabra, on either side 
of the royal doors, represent the column of light 
by which God guided the Jews at night to the prom- 
ised land. All our senses; vision, hearing, 
smell, taste and touch, are utilized to enhance 
the teachings of the Gospel and the grace of the 
Sacraments to show us that we, too, have a prom- 
ised land, the Kingdom of Heaven. 

The founders of our church had a crystal chan- 
delier installed to hang from the dome. The orn- 
amental light had a meaning; the majesty of the 
firmament and the glory of God's heavenly bodies, 
the sun, the moon, and the planets. The founders 
could hardly know that the 1949 earthquake would 
loosen the support that held the chandelier. The 
church elders could not have forseen that after a 
second earthquake in 1965, the chandelier would 
plummet down and shatter amidst the pews. Fortu- 
nately, no one was present so there were no injur- 
ies. It was later discovered that since the 
church was built, only three two-inch screws had 
held this multi-hundred pound weight of metal and 
crystal. Learning about our misfortune, the Seat- 
tle St. Demetrios Orthodox Community donated their 
lovely Tiffany glass and crystal chandelier to us. 
They were remodeling their church and the old 
world look did not befit their decor. As a mem- 
orial, the largest crystal, the only surviving 
whole piece of our original, was added to the low- 
er tip of the new chandelier. 

In Eastern Orthodoxy, Christ's resurrection is 
the predominant and integral focal point. This 
explains why the midnight Easter liturgy has been 
described as having no parallel in the experience 
of other Christian worship services. Traditions, 
along with symbolism, are intertwined and continue 
in our Tacoma Greek Community. Moments of my 
childhood are replayed today: The long forty-day 
strict fasts, the priest carrying the eight-foot 
wooden cross on Holy Thursday, the lamentations 
sung over the flower-decked tomb, the black-draped 


294 


icons depicting mourning on Good Friday night, 
Saturday at midnight, the darkened church sudden- 
ly blazing forth with light from candles lit, one 
by one, from the one held by the priest singing 
the hymn "Christ Has Risen," the procession of 
all the parishioners holding candles and going 
outdoors for a mini service and then entering into 
the House of the Lord, joyfully singing "Hristos 
Anesti," about His resurrection. 

Afterwards, everyone goes downstairs to the 
parish hall and partakes of the Feast of Lamb and 
sweet Easter bread, cracking the symbolic red eggs 
and saying, "HRISTOS ANESTI" (Christ has risen). 

The reply is "ALITHOS ANESTI" (truly He has risen). 
If tradition is kept, the one who cracks both sides 
of an opposing egg gets to keep it. For fifty days 
after Easter, there is no kneeling during our ser- 
vices. On Pentacost at the descent of the Holy 
Spirit, we begin to kneel again. 

Many priests have served the Tacoma St. Nichol- 
as Greek Orthodox Church. They are: 

1924 Haralampos Marinos and John Aivaliotes 

1925 Spiridon Vasilas 

1926 Bartholomew Karhalios 

1928 Hieronimous Koutroulis 

1929 George Mistakidis 

1930 H. Koutroulis 

1931 Germanos Tzoumanis 

1934 Constantine Souliopos 

1935 Germanos Tzoumanis 

1939 Chrisostom Kaplanis 

1940 Constantine Statheros 
1944 George Paulson 

1949 Theodoritos Dymek 
1952 Costas Kouklis 
1958 Germanos Tzoumanis 
1960 E. Anthony Tomaras 

1979 Michael Johnson 

1980 Paul Koutoukas 
1983 Nicholas Kousevich 
1986 John Kariotakis 


295 


Our new bishop's throne is ready and waiting for 
occupancy whenever we are to be honored by a visit 
of a spiritual Holy leader. The Eastern influence 
on the West is represented in St. Nicholas. An 
electronic chimes system recently installed, du- 
plicates the sound of pealing bells which adds to 
the beauty of the Lord's house and reminds those 
within hearing distance on a Sunday morning, that 
it is time for worship. 

Perhaps the blessing of our patron saint, St. 
Nicholas, and the prayers of our founders and all 
the priests who served the Tacoma Parish, will 
blend with the pealing chimes when we yearly cele- 
brate our anniversary each December 6th. 


296 



Mueller Harkins Airport, late 1930‘s, when it was 
being used as a base for the Civil Pilot's Train- 
ing Program. Courtesy of Washington State Histor- 
ical Museum. 


This picture goes with the 
story on the following page. 


297 



FLYING HIGH IN TACOMA 

By Leo Yuckert 

Everything has a beginning. As the huge jets 
cross the sky, I often wonder if there ever was a 
beginning in aviation other than what we see. I 
have to pinch myself to admmit that aviation, as I 
grew up with it, had a very humble beginning. I 
am happy to think that I witnessed, even took part, 
in the early days when aviation was not the most 
promising industry around. Having witnessed the 
development, I feel a great satisfaction in seeing 
the industry reach heights for which few had ever 
seriously hoped. For those who missed the initial 
takeoff, I would like to comment on just some of 
those early times in the Northwest, more specifi- 
cally, Tacoma. I'm very certain that what took 
place here happened in many other areas of this 
country in about the same manner. 

In the twenties and thirties airports around Ta- 
coma were a great deal less imposing than what we 
see today. A pasture with a minimum number of 
trees and rocks or an abandoned racetrack, served 
the purpose. The Tacoma Muel ler-Harkins Airport, 
with the dubious distinction of being located a- 
cross the highway from a cemetery, was a first. 

The only hazard was a row of poplars which nipped 
the wings of aircraft a little low when coming in 
for a landing to the southwest. The early airport 
had two hangars on the north near the highway. The 
field was large with worn tracks, indicating the 
preferred runway most alligned with the prevailing 
wind. No matter how slim business was at the air- 
port, there always was a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) 
stationed there. The fleet consisted at the most 
of three aircraft, but often less. The common 
plane of that period was the biplane. My recollec- 
tion says it was an 0X5 powered International I 
may be wrong but they all seemed well endowed with 
plywood. Plywood in the wings, in the fuselage, 
and stored in and around the hangar. There was 


298 


often more patch-repairing than flying in those 
days. 

Whenever I visited the airport on weekends there 
was little activity; maybe a few ground classes or 
a lot of engine tinkering on engines with tools 
scattered around on the hangar floor. On week 
days there might be some classes in ground i nstruc- 
tion, otherwise the field was as quiet as the cem- 
etery across the road. On rare occasions one hit 
pay dirt; an itinerant aircraft might land. The 
normal approach consisted of a dive on the air- 
port, full throttle, to alert all and sundry that 
this was an event of no small import, and actually 
it was for the pilot too. 

On one such an occasion, one of the earliest 
Monocoupes made an appearance. It was painted 
orange and black, had a lot of glass all around 
the cockpit and a Velie radial engine which popped 
and crackled after it was shut off. What a thrill 
to see an airplane come alive which I had only 
seen in aviation magazines. It was all worth the 
ten mile hitchhike and was most satisfying to any 
kid who had so many dreams of eventually becoming 
airborne. 

Years later a new and larger hangar was built 
across from the cemetery entrance. The new struc- 
ture was a "terminal" and included a funky glassed 
in tower and a large, hard-surfaced area extending 
out from the hangar entrance. That hard surface 
was new and was the beginning of acres and acares 
of ramps yet to come. The hangar now housed newer 
and late model aircraft. I recall a small trimo- 
ator, high wing monoplane with in-line engine; and 
finally an Encoupe which was seldom flown, since 
pilots frowned on it because it was damned with a 
tricycle gear and simplified control system. I 
should mention two other old timers; an 0X5 power- 
ed Swallow biplane and a black and orange Stearman 
To me that was quite a fleet and it seemed like a 
lot of airplanes to wander around and admire; hop- 
ing to hell someone would roll one out and fly it. 


299 


Those airplanes stimulated the imaginations of the 
"nuts" who were interested in aviation and were 
convinced by a sixth sense that aviation, in their 
books at least, had a real and attainable future. 

The time interval between the old hangar and the 
new must have been about twelve or fifteen years. 

I think the impetus for the newly located struc- 
ture was due largely to the air races and tours 
(a number of civil aircraft visiting selected air- 
ports and selling rides to the public). If one 
arrived at the airport early enough there was a 
most fantastic display of current aircraft; nearly 
everything built would make the event. My first 
view of a Lockheed Vega occurred at such a tour; 
it was equipped with a radial engine with no cowl- 
ing and the pilot had to enter the plane from the 
top in front of the wing and not through the cabin. 
There were many others, biplanes and monoplanes 
with high and low wings. One could see Wacos, 
Stearmans, Travelaires and Aerosports; all of 
which would be used for the next few decades. I 
remember the early low wings with their amateurish 
design of struts and wires. I remember well see- 
ing numerous planes dive on the airport, pull up, 
circle and land in spite of the dust storm creat- 
ed by other taxiing aircraft with tail skids. The 
events were most exciting; a courageous display 
for those days and they seemed to auger well for 
the future. 

A shot in the arm came to Tacoma when the city 
became involved with buying an airplane in order 
to enter an air race. Citizens were asked to sup- 
port and subscribe toward the purchase of an air 
race entrant. The aircraft selected was a Buhl 
Airsedan, a sesqui-wing biplane, a five place de- 
sign with a Wright radial engine. The campaign 
was successful and Tacoma had its entrant. As I 
recall it didn't win the race but it wasn't last 
either. The Airsedan was around Muel ler-Harkins 
Airport a long time being used for charter and 
passenger hopping. It was interesting to check on 


300 


its use when I visited the airport. At one time 
it was "rigged" for dual instruction; the student 
in the front cockpit and the instructor behind 
with control of the rudder and stick. Not the 
best instructor-student arrangement, but dual in- 
struction continued that way in spi te of obstacles . 

As the years wore on a new breed of operators 
appeared. They had a ripple effect by helping the 
FBO in acquiring interested students. Signs would 
appear along the highway, a discreet distance from 
the hangar, reading "Learn to fly - $80." The 
signs pointed to a new dawn for young men to get 
in on the ground floor of aviation. Actually, in 
retrospect, those advertisements were 100% true as 
aviation advanced. The operators used a variety 
of aircraft for instruction: the Curtis Pusher, 
the early Arrow tapered wing biplane and the Aer- 
onca flying bathtub. Those flimsy bits and pieces 
of the early flying scene had a tremendous impact 
on keeping the industry alive and moving--almost 
more "game" than industry at the time. About the 
airplanes, we can now say the designs and quality 
controls fell short of the day's safety require- 
ment. However, interest held and succeeding de- 
signs improved as skills, knowledge and money be- 
came available. Ingenious operators whose liveli- 
hood depended on getting people to fly promoted a 
scheme of a penny-a-pound ride. Statistically it 
may be that more people became airborne as a re- 
sult of this rewarding program for passengers and 
operators. It was especially good for 1 ittle kids- 
real cheap; but not so good for a 250-pounder. 

Looking back it all seems like a moment in slow 
motion. Little did one realize that this was the 
beginning and each aircraft and design was making 
a tremendous contribution toward today's diverse 
market. There was never an abandonment of the 
spirit to fly regardless of costs or loss of pi- 
lots' lives. 

Another sign of local aviation growth was the 
acquisition by Pierce County of land for another 


301 


airport. I think it was very much a matter of ci- 
vic awareness to provide a commercial airport in 
order to remain somewhat competitive with Seattle. 
Initially Pierce County built a large steel hangar, 
still there, now part of McChord Field. Included 
in the terminal" were shops and a weather- report- 
ing station to provide weather information to the 
airmail service. 

Varney Airlines had a Stearman which stopped on 
schedule for mail. The plane had an open cockpit 
for the pilot but the front cockpit for the mail 
was covered. Often I tried to be present at the 
scheduled arrivals and departures of the mail 
planes, weather permitting for both of us. The 
mail planes attempted to make straight-in landings, 
abandoning the more common earlier "buzz" jobs. The 
pilots running the mail were very serious about giv- 
ing good service and also of making money. 

The Stearman was later followed by the Boeing 40A. 
Pilots were still in the open cockpit but space was 
provided for four passengers in a closed cabin. 

When I was in junior high school I used to be awak- 
ened during the night as the mail plane flew over- 
head, bound for Seattle, another successful flight 
from where I didn't know. 

Fledgling technology continued and was inexorably 
nudged on through the thirties. Finally the secret 
and almost mysterious (all new designs were secret 
up to a point) all metal, low wing, twin engines 
Boeing 247, was seen skirting in and out of the 
clouds over Tacoma. It was an unforgettable moment 
when I actually saw a silver, sleek monster in 
flight, unlike any futuristic sketches I had ever 
seen. Thinking back, I can come to only one conclu- 
sion: I experienced some exciting and stimulating 
times as did all those who looked upward. 

At airports and over head, other planes were being 
seen; the Fokker Tri-Motor and the Universal, Boeing 
Tri-Motor Biplane, the Ford Tri-Motor and eventually 
the Stinson high and low wing tri-motors, the large 


302 


single-engine Hamilton, the Standard and the Buhl 
Air Bus. In looking back, I don't think the Pier- 
ce County Field was ever static, albeit many er- 
ratic starts. It seemed to have started with lit- 
tle fanfare but managed to survige and prosper in 
spite of hazards but with plenty of high hopes. 

Young men who hung around the airfield were now 
primed to move into aviation professionally. At 
the time one could not logically explain the inter- 
est and fascination flying held but that did not 
deter flying enthusiasts from working at common 
jobs and saving their money in order to take fly- 
ing lessons. 

In the late thirties college students had an un- 
usual opportunity offered by the Civil Aeronautics 
Authority to learn to fly in a Civil Pilot Training 
Program. By maintaining a reasonable academic re- 
cord, passing a physical examination and paying $40 
one could learn to fly. I entered the Program at 
the College of Puget Sound. Dr. Raymond Seward was 
ground instructor and Ben Berry, FBO at the Mueller 
Harkins Airport, was flight instructor. Berry sup- 
plied the training planes, two piper Cubs and an 
all metal Luscombe. Training flights were scupu- 
lously logged and when I completed the ground 
school, forty hours of flight training, and the fi- 
nal flight check, I received a private pilot's li- 
cense. 

My interest in aviation finally led me into Air- 
port Traffic control. After becoming a journeyman 
controller, I acquired my commercial pilot's lic- 
ence and flight instructor's rating. Until I re- 
tired from Airport Traffic Control in 1975 I main- 
tained an interest in flying as an avocation. 


303 



Engine No. 14 of the Tacoma Eastern Railroad was 
brought to the Bi smarck f i re on July 10, 1914. 
Courtesy of the author. 


304 


THE BISMARCK FIRE 

By Fred Stiegler 

It was a quiet evening of JulylO, 1914 when the 
residents of Bismarck, near Tacoma, heard the fire 
whistle sound at the Comly-Kirk Planing Mill. The 
mill was on fire! Dark smoke rolled up as the 
flames fanned by a brisk north wind, quickly spread 
to the adjoining Bismarck Lumber Company. 

Paul Kirk, at home at 5219 McKinley Avenue, heard 
the whistle and could see the smoke from his fa- 
ther's mill. He jumped on his bike and raced to- 
ward the mill. 

With bell clanging and smoke billowing from its 
short stack, the first fire engine arrived, pulled 
by three grey horses; a fast run from the station 
at 38th and Mckinley. 

Gus Hagen was shingling the roof of his new home 
at 702 East 53rd when he saw the flames. He called 
to his sons. Gene and Earl, who with their father, 
ran to the fire. 

Mill workers and spectators were quick to gather 
and to help hook up the mill fire hoses. Soon more 
horse-drawn steam pumpers (fire engines) arrived 
from as far as South Tacoma, the team of horses 
falling exhausted onto the ground when they arrived 
at the scene. 

Motor driven fire equipment from downtown Tacoma 
began to arrive but it was too late. Before the 
night was over, fifteen acres of mill sites and 
lumber yards between east 56th and 62nd streets and 
an area west of the main Tacoma Eastern Railroad, 
was swept clean, three people were dead and a score 
injured. 

The Comly-Kirk barns were saved as were their 
horses but the Comly home burned to the ground. The 


305 


home of E. Foster, the owner of the Bismarck Mill, 
although near the fire, somehow was spared. Today 
the residence still stands at 58th and McKinley Ave- 
nue, surrounded by a high hedge, the only remaining 
building of the great fire. 

In the path of the flames stood the barns where 
the Bismarck Mill stabled their horses. The doors 
were opened and the horses were driven out to a safe 
place across the avenue. Ironically, the barn doors 
were left open as the men hurried away to fight the 
fire. When the flames spread to the barnroofs, the 
unattended horses panicked and dashed back into 
their burning barns. There, amid terrible screams, 
the confused animals all burned to death. 

Number 14, a heavy-duty freight locomotive, was 
sent roaring up the Tacoma Eastern Gulch from Tacoma 
to try to remove some of the lumber- laden rail cars 
from the path of the fire. Tall stacks of lumber 
piled high on both sides of the track, were burning. 
An attempt was made to run the engine through the 
fire into the Comly-Kirk yards. About ten or fif- 
teen volunteers, adventurous but foolish, climbed 
aboard the locomotive and crowded onto the wide step 
behind the tender. In a few moments this move ended 
in disaster. Moving slowly between the piles of 
burning lumber, the heavy engine, now running over 
hot rails and burning ties, gave a shudder and with 
its tender, slowly tipped over into the flames. The 
engineer and crew jumped clear, but two riders, C. 
Westcott and Earl Carpenter, were caught unde the 
engine and were crushed. Seventeen-year-old Glen 
Gabriel, an arm and a leg pinned beneath the tender, 
lay amid the burning timbers. Those who had escaped 
with burns ran back into the fire to try to free the 
trapped youth. Some burned themselves even more se- 
verely in the attempted rescue. When the fuel tank 
of the tender ruptured from the heat, the burning 
oil flowed toward the trapped youth. An effort was 
made to sever his leg with a shovel as he begged his 
would-be rescuers to hit him on the head and end his 
torture. It was too late; for soon the youth was 
engulfed in the burning oil while the shaken men ran 


306 


co save themselves. 

The fire was seen for many miles. Tacoma Rail- 
v;ay end Power Company placed extra street cars on 
chi- iiCiCinley Park Line to transport hundreds of 
spectators to the big blaze. 

There was another incident that directly per- 
tained to this fire; every summer for over ten 
years the remaining sawdust piles on the old mill 
site would smoke and smolder. As a boy, I often 
played with neighborhood friends in the ruins. In 
1921, one boy running over a smoldering sawdust 
pile, fell through. When we pulled him out, his 
tennis shoe was ablaze. A double knot hindered 
the removal of his shoe. The boy limped home in 
cears, and in less than one month he was dead of 
blood poisoning. His home is no longer standing 
and his name is long forgotten. 

Engine Number Fourteen was repaired and remain- 
ed in service for many years, pushing cars up the 
steep grade to East 64th Street where the freight 
trains were assembled. 

Sixty years after the fire, I wrote about it in 
a story which was printed in the Tacoma News Tri- 
bune. I was surprised to find that I had inadver- 
tantly opened some old wounds. Carl Sharp, who 
had talked his cousin Glen Gabriel into riding on 
the tender of Engine Number Fourteen to the fire, 
became very upset about hearing once more of that 
terrible day of so long ago. His sister, Ruth 
Knoll of Puyallup, called me and later wrote a 
letter to me explaining that Mr. Sharp would not 
read the newspaper article about the fire but that 
he talked about it a great deal. The day after 
tne fire, Mr. Sharp, although badly burned himself, 
watched the removal of the bodies. The Sharp fam- 
ily home was on East 48th Street near the railroad 
tracks which probably was a constant reminder of 
the tragedy. The mother of Glen Gabriel never re- 
covered from the shock; it affected her mind until 
she passed away at an old age. 


307 


Another echo from the fire was a call from Mr 
Gus Anderson of University Place, who told of the 
time when he had run through the mill site in Auq- 
u.t of 1914 when he was eleven years old. He too 
tell through some burning sawdust and severely 
burned his feet. He awoke in a hospital where he 
stayed for ten weeks while skin was grafted on his 
feet; then he had to learn to walk all over again. 

Still another response came in the form of a let- 
ter from Gladys Holland of California who stated 
that her father, John H. Deacon, was the engineer 
of the wrecker that lifted up #14 and other wreck- 

a u^’ 4 .? fter the fire - She mentioned that the mill 
whistle was stuck and the eerie sound helped make 

at^hlTtime ° f ni9ht ' She was ei 9 ht years old 


I can well remember the locomotive tender lyinq 
beside the main line at about East 60th Street. 
There was not a child who would venture near the 
thing after dark. It was said that you could still 
hear the poor youth crying there. Sometime in the 
early twenties, a wrecker came to lift the broken 
tender onto a flat car. We kids gathered around, 
for we were sure that another body would be found 
but of course, there was none. 


With the entry of the United States into World War 
One, the name of the town of Bismarck was changed to 
i lsdale because of the sensitivity to German names. 

I he area had already become part of the City of 
Tacoma. J 


308 


ROAD BUILDER 


Co-authors: Madeline A. Robinson 
and Wilma Snyder 

A 1938 issue of the Sixth Avenue Journal , locat- 
ed at 608 South Fife Street, invited those who had 
lived in the State of Washington during territori- 
al days to come to its office to claim free tick- 
ets to the Sunset Theater. The tickets were the 
personal gift of Louis Perunko, owner and manager 
of the theater located at Sixth Avenue and Pros- 
pect. The Journal offered a challenge to its read- 
ers by stating, "If you have never been interested 
in the early history of Tacoma, you would be by 
talking to some of its old-timers." My father, 
Joseph Warter Sr., who lived at 631 North Fife for 
over fifty years, was one of those old-timers. He 
was a general paving contractor who worked on side- 
walks and streets in Tacoma and surrounding coun- 
ties. 

I have many memories of the jobs my father did 
because he talked to my brother and me about them. 
One of the earliest that I recall, was a job to 
drain and grade three miles of road near South 
Prairie on the Buckley-Wi 1 keson Highway. I have in 
my possession a contract for the job; he was one 
of seven bidders. His bid of $74,430 was $420 low- 
er than any other bid. 

Looking at the contracts which my father saved 
gives me a history of what he was doing as well as 
keeping up with the story of road improvement in 
the city and county. In 1914 his bid of $62,337 
was accepted for a partial road starting at Spana- 
way and going towards the Mountain. 

In 1919 Pierce County passed a bond issue for 
two million, five hundred thousand dollars for four 
projects; a road from Spanaway to McKenna, the 
grading of the East Side Drive, grading of the 
Eatonville Highway, and the building of a road from 


309 


the Tacoma Country and Golf Club on Gravelly Lake 
to the Steilacoom road. My father won the con- 
tract for the Country Club Road. 

In 1921 he was awarded a city contract to pave 
Park Avenue from South 64th to South 96th. The 
project had been held up for nearly a month due to 
the laying of water mains south of 88th Street. 

When he could start to work Dad placed his mixing 
equipment on 96th Street and proceeded to work 
north. He had some innovative procedures which 
facilitated his work. An article in the October 
nineteen-twenty-nine issue of the Western Hiqhwav 
Builder stated, "Mr. Warter is one of the first 
paving contractors in the Pacific Northwest to 
speed up his operations by having stockpiles of 
materials located at intervals along his work and 
charging the mixer by the use of small trucks 
built especially for this purpose. The article 
explained, "In the past mechanical finishers have 
been found unwieldly because of the lack of flex- 
ibility in going from a flat surface to a crown. 

Mr. Warter, with the aid of an equipment distribu- 
tor, worked out a quick change attachment so that 
the distributor can be changed in about three min- 
utes. As far as is known... it is the first really 
quick convertible finisher in the country." 

In an April 19, 1926 issue of The Index, the 
Sumner newspaper, my father was named as a man 
whose work had been highly commended by public of- 
ficials. The article stated, "The tremendous in- 
crease in the amount of both city and county traf- 
fic, partially due to the modern motor car, has 
made it a matter of public necessity that all main 
roads be paved and kept in good repair. Among the 
firms who early realized this need and equipped 
themselves to serve the public in this respect, 
there is no other which has met with greater success 
or higher commendation than Mr. Warter' s efficient 
and well-managed company." About the time of the 
^ nt ^ ex story he had a job to widen the shoulders and 
add guard rails along 2.6 miles of the new Tacoma- 


310 


Seattle highway. He kept in close touch with oth- 
ers in his occupation by becoming a member and 
later an officer, of the Work's Contractors Asso- 
ciation. 

The contracts I have confirming my father's jobs 
on a variety of city streets, indicated that he 
had to offer surety for each contract as required 
by state law. In case of non-performance, both 
the contractor and the insurer would be held re- 
sponsible. In a bond dated April 19, 1929 a penal 
sum of $25,528 would have been required had my fa- 
ther defaulted on the contract. The Maryland Cas- 
ualty Company and the Union Indemnity Company of 
Louisiana were named as joint signers of the bond. 
Bonds for jobs required completion within the time 
set forth or with such extensions as might be 
granted. Contractors had to pay their own labor- 
ers or sub-contractors and provide their own pro- 
visions and supplies. The city was not responsi- 
ble for any damage to persons or property by rea- 
son of carelessness or negligence on the part of 
the holder of the contract. My father had to be a 
good businessman to keep his company operating 
safely and successfully. 

Letters and newspaper clippings indicate that my 
father had been awarded contracts for the improve- 
ment of State Road No.l, later known as the Paci- 
fic Highway, from Fort Lewis to Ni squally and later 
from Nisqually to Olympia. He also did some retop- 
ping with asphalt on Olympia city streets and re-r 
surfacing on the military road to Auburn with the 
same material. However, concrete was his favorite 
material and he had some disagreements with some of 
his co-workers as to the best road surface. 

By 1933 my father had worked on enough contracts 
and his company was well enough known that the Sun- 
day Olympian reported, "Joseph Warter, dean of pav- 
ing contractors of Washington, has a long and envi- 
able record of highway construction which includes 
some of the state's largest jobs." 


311 


He attended the official opening of Martin Way 
on the Pacific Highway which was held September 3, 
mneteen-thirty-seven. The total cost of the high- 
way was $1,700,000, which included a 322 foot 
bridge over the Nisqually River. A large concrete 
bridge 4,496 feet long, covering the Nisqually 
flats west of the river, was part of the project. 

A county contract which my father was awarded 
for part of the Puyall up-Graham Road was for 
twenty-six thousand, four hundred five dollars; it 
was subject to approval of a grant of 45% to be 
allotted by the PWA (Public Works Administration) 
which was part of President Roosevelt's depression 
program. The road was to be nine feet in width, a 
far cry from what is needed for traffic on that 
stretch of road today. 

One of the newspaper articles I have saved told 
of my father falling out of a plum tree while prun- 
ing it. Acknowledging his interest in sports, the 
article stated that he didn't let his injuries keep 
him from attending a regular "smoker" sponsored by 
the Eagles; "smoker" was the word used for a boxing 
match. I can visualize my father in a well filled 
auditorium of spectator sportsmen, all smokinq ci- 
gars! 

On the humorous side, E. T. Short, a columnist for 
the Tacoma Times , reported on a car race from Ta- 
coma to Olympia and back. There were 18 contestants 
two of them women. The race must have taken place 
before the Pacific Highway was built because the 40 
mile road was described as a dirt road with varied 
grades, curves and mud puddles. The pilot car had 
as passengers, S. A. Perkins, Elliot Kelly and Sid- 
ney Anderson. Confetti was thrown from the car 
which traveled at an average speed of nearly 40 
miles an hour. Mayor Seymour made the trip previous 
to the race in three hours and twenty seconds. His 
time was not announced before the race but the car 
coming in closest to his time was to be the winner. 
Coming in one minute and thirty-nine seconds of the 


312 


mayor's time was J. P. Lesher. (Mr. Lesher owned 
a restaurant next door to the Hoyt Doughnut Com- 
pany at Sixth Avenue and Prospect.) Sportsman that 
he was, my father entered the race, driving a Stu- 
debaker, his favorite car. On the return trip he 
skidded in the soft mud near Lacey and before he 
could gain control of his car, it had turned around 
and was headed back toward Olympia. His gears 
locked and he was forced to ask for assistance. He 
didn't reach Tacoma until the next day. 

I remember my father as a man who took care of 
his children after my mother died, who was known 
by professional contractors as an innovative work- 
er, and to his cronies who may have also attended 
the Eagle "smokers" he was probably known as a man 
who played as hard as he worked. 



First paving in Point Defiance Park contracted by 
Joseph Warter, Sr. In the foreground is Joseph 
Warter, Jr. Courtesy of the author. 


313 



FATHER'S WORK 

By Eunice Huffman 

Father was an electrician and as a young man, 
practiced his trade independently. When the Chi- 
cago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad electrified 
part of its route. Father was hired to work on the 
electrical systems. He worked as far east as Deer- 
lodge, Montana which was a terminal point. Moth- 
er's wish to return to Tacoma started him on anew 
career. 

The foresight of Eastern financiers had brought 
the Todd Drydock and Construction Corporation to 
the Hylebos Waterway. The keel for the first ship 
was laid in July 1917 and during World War I the 
shipyard became a thriving industry as more and 
more warships were built. 

It was during this time that my father, Roy Tro- 
bridge, was employed at Todds and became the elec- 
trical superintendent of the yard. He was not 
particularly a jokester but when he suspected em- 
ployees of stealing small parts in their lunch 
buckets he would screw their buckets to whatever 
surface they were placed on so when the owner hur- 
ried to take off at quitting time, he would be 
astonished to find his bucket secured. This was 
Father's warning to stop the thievery. Another 
one of Father's rules was directed at the time men 
spent in the bathroom. Dad had wired a low vol- 
tage of power to the toilet seat and if he felt 
the employee was loitering. Dad would give him a 
jolt of electricity and the employee was soon back 
on the job! 

A time of embarrassment for Father happened once 
at lunchtime when he was entertaining some eastern 
officials of the company. He was having difficulty 
removing the cardboard seal from a bottle of milk 
served him. He finally used his fork to aid in the 
removal of the lid and stabbed the fork into the 


314 


bottle, causing the milk to spray onto the suit 
of the visiting official. 

After the closure in June, 1925, Father remained 
on the job at the shipyard for a time as he was in 
charge of the electrical dismantling. The build- 
ings stood empty until 1933, when all but one 
small building was razed for scrap. During World 
War II Todd Drydock was reorganized as Todd-Paci- 
fic and warships were built again. 

Father was not involved in this effort as he had 
started his own business. Midget Water Heater and 
Specialty Company, after Todd's first closure. His 
company was located in the basement of a building 
at 3401 Pacific Avenue. His main business was the 
manufacture of water heaters and thermostats which 
he designed himself. He developed special elec- 
trical equipment and eventually had a machine shop. 

The early model water heaters were designated 
as side-arm heaters and were fitted to the outside 
of the water tank by pipes through which the water 
circulated and was heated. These heaters were 
controlled by an off-and-on switch, however, a 
thermostat was designed to be used in conjunction 
with the heater which would automatically turn it 
off and on, furnishing the desired temperature of 
water at all times. It was difficult to convince 
people to spend the added few dollars for the 
thermostat as most of them felt they could rely on 
their own ability to control the heater. One such 
person was the owner of a bakery located at 3505 
McKinley Avenue. Father had installed a large 
tank and heater in the bakery and advised the own- 
er to install a thermostat. The owner didn't think 
he needed the added expense so declined to purchase 
the safeguard. One weekend he forgot to turn off 
the heater and the resulting pressure from the 
built-up steam blew the heater apart and caused 
considerable damage to the bakery. 

In my little house at 3635 East G Street I had 
somewhat the same experience with a bit better luck. 


315 


I had forgotten to turn off my heater but the 
steam pressure backed into the water system and 
our neighbors were getting hot water from their 
cold tap. After that episode, I had a thermostat 
installed. 

Eventually Father developed more sophisticated 
water heaters and needed a larger area for his ex- 
panding business so he purchased land on 28th and 
Pacific Avenue, designed and had built, a new 
building. He continued to operate his business 
until his death on December 19, 1960. My mother 
eventually sold the design rights to his products 
and the machinery and stock were sold to various 
purchasers. 

The building was purchased by Pay-N-Pak Plumbing 
and Supply Company. I believe this was the fore- 
runner of the now multi-operation of Pay-N-Pak 
stores. The building was later resold to Eagle 
Paper Box Company, which still operates there. 


316 





This picture goes with the 
story on the following page. 



George Byrd home in Fern Hill area located at So. 
81st and J Streets, Circa 1883. Courtesy of 
Peggy Goedert. 


317 


EARLY FERN HILL AND TACOMA 

By Wilma Snyder 

From a transcript made of an interview with Leland 
Athow, conducted by Ruth L. Wett as part of an 
oral history project sponsored by the Tacoma Pub- 
lic Library in 1976. Edited by Wilma Snyder in 
1986. 

My grandfather, George W. Byrd, platted the com- 
munity known as Fern Hill in 1888. Lots sold rea- 
dily in the new development, extending from South 
84th to 88th Streets and from Park to Yakima Ave- 
nues. Earlier in 1865, he had taken a homestead 
from Park to Sheridan Avenues and from South 80th 
to 86th Streets. His first house was built about 
where Baker Junior High School's baseball diamond 
is now located. Later he built a larger, eight- 
room home, including a milk room. (Fern Hill was 
then a farming community.) In addition to a wood 
cook stove in the kitchen, the house was heated by 
eight fireplaces. 

Grandfather sold 20 acres of the platted commun- 
ity to my father, James Athow, who had married Geo- 
rge's daughter, Addie Elizabeth, in 1890. Father 
cleared the land of first growth timber so he could 
go into the market gardening business. He deliver- 
ed vegetables, fruit and a limited amount of meat, 
in Tacoma and around the Lakes area, which was 
prairie, extending from Fort Lewis to Gravelly, 

Stei lacoom and American Lakes. He made deliveries 
three times a week in Tacoma, but because of city 
regulations, he could sell only what he produced 
on his own land. Restrictions were less stringent 
out in the county, so when he was in town he would 
buy bananas, oranges, peaches and watermelons to 
sell out in the country. It is interesting to note 
the differences in the prices then and now. Cher- 
ries were about five to eight cents a pound and 
vegetables, sold in bunches, were four bunches for 
a nickel. Eggs were fifty cents a dozen and bana- 
nas, sold by the dozen instead of the pound, were 
20 cents. 


318 


When Grandfather took out his homestead in 1865, 
there was no school close by. The nearest school, 
the first built in Pierce County in 1855, was on 
the prairie close to where the Clover Park School 
District Administration building stands today. One 
day when my mother, Addie Elizabeth Byrd, and her 
sister, Clara Margaret, were walking the three 
miles to this school, they encountered what they 
thought was a cougar. They were too frightened to 
make the journey again so my grandfather donated 
two acres of land from his homestead for a local 
school. Originally it was called Byrd's School and 
later renamed Fern Hill School. Pupils came from 
Parkland, Lakeview and Bismarck before those dis- 
tricts had schools of their own. 

As soon as the school was built a Sunday School 
was organized and a preacher from Puyallup added 
Fern Hill to his circuit. As the school population 
increased a wing was added and when a brick build- 
ing was built (still in use) the old school was 
purchased by Henry Berger who moved it to a loca- 
tion near South 90th and A Streets and remodeled it 
for a home. (In 1976 the home was still standing.) 

When the community felt the need for a church, my 
grandfather donated two lots for a church and par- 
sonage at South 80th and Park Avenue. People came 
from Spanaway, Parkland and Bismarck to worship in 
the Methodist Episcopal Church. (It has had at 
least two other locations and is now listed in the 
phone book as the Fern Hill United Methodist Church 
at 501 South 84th. ) 

Tacoma was separated from Fern Hill by a forest 
of trees with a plank road through the woods going 
to town. Transportation was by horse and buggy, 
wagon, or by foot. Since wood was in demand for 
heating and cooking there was a big demand for this 
fuel. Cut wood was hauled to town on the plank road 
and sold from $2.25 to $3.25 a cord. The plank road 
finally became mired in the mud, gave way, and was 
regraded. Cinders from the Lakeview Rolling Mill 


319 


were spread over the road for a new surface. 

The distance from Fern Hill to Tacoma was about 
seven miles. At one time there was a little steam 
engine which pulled one passenger car on a narrow 
gauge track. The engine burned wood and cords of 
it were stacked along the tracks at different sta- 
tions at South 82nd and Yakima Avenue. The tracks 
were later widened to regulation size but the pow- 
er wasn't always adequate for going up Del in Street 
Hill. The lights in the passenger car would dim 
enough so that night-time riders were inconvenienc- 
ed if they were trying to read a newspaper. Traf- 
fic was heavy and if the seats and inside standing 
space were full, passengers stood on the steps, 
hanging onto an outside handle. Sometimes people 
rode the cow catcher or even up on top of the car. 

After the Tacoma Railway and Power Company es- 
tablished street car lines around town. Fern Hill 
decided they wanted to be annexed to the city, 
mainly to get street car fares reduced. It cost 15 
cents for a round trip ticket to Tacoma but in town 
you could ride for a nickel. The TR and P refused 
the nickel fare farther than 64th Street and the 
conductor would then walk around to collect anoth- 
er fare. Some passengers got off and walked the 
rest of the way but others waged a sort of a sit- 
down strike. So the car was switched to a siding 
and as more cars reached 64th Street they too were 
switched off the main line; some of the passengers 
stayed there all night. The next morning my broth- 
er and I delivered the Tacoma Ledger to people 
still on the cars. Some determined citizens stayed 
on the cars a second day which got the TR and P in- 
to a bind as their franchise guaranteed at least 
one complete run every twenty- four hours but no 
cars were returning to town to complete a run. A 
temporary agreement was reached with the Fern Hill 
passengers being given a receipt for their 15 cent 
fare until a court hearing could be scheduled. The 
court decided in favor of the Fern Hill residents 
so officials of the street car line came out to a 


320 


meeting held in the Odd Fellows Temple. They 
brought several canvas bags of money and returned 
the riders fares to them. 

There was practically nothing between Fern Hill 
and Tacoma so the community thought of itself as 
a little town where everyone knew everyone else. 
Before being annexed to the city it was under 
county government. For many years, not having a 
doctor nearby, they had to depend on a doctor ei- 
ther from Puyallup or Tacoma who they hoped would 
make house calls. It was a self-contained commun- 
ity and continued having yearly pioneer celebra- 
tions after it was annexed to the city. 

************ 

(The community had its ups and downs and no 
doubt suffered as the whole town did in the de- 
pression of 1893, the year Mr. Athow was born. He 
must have been a student of history because in his 
interview he quoted a promise of the time made by 
Grover Cleveland, who said, "If you elect me pres- 
ident you will be able to buy a pair of shoes for 
50 cents." They elected him, and you could buy 
the shoes for the quoted price but nobody had the 
50 cents. Mr. Athow is still alive and at 93 is 
still a student of history and loves to talk about 
the times he remembers.) 

********** 

There is a fascinating story in Mr. Athow' s sto- 
ry of the tragic demise of his great uncle, Andrew 
Byrd. A man by the name of Bates, who it was rum- 
ored did not have average intelligence, lost a 
cow. Someone whom Mr. Athow mentions as well known 
but whose name he does not reveal, told Bates that 
his cow had been seen in Andrew Byrd's slaughter 
house. Bates questioned Mr. Byrd and was given 
permission to inspect the slaughter house for evi- 
dence; he did so but apparently found none. But 
Bates brooded about the situation and hung about 
the post office in Steilacoom for three days. When 
Byrd came for his mail Bates shot him. The victim 


321 


was taken to a hotel in town where efforts were 
made to save his life but he died the next day. 
Bates had been put in the Steilacoom jail by the 
sheriff, Peter Judson. After the death of Byrd a 
crowd with Philip Keach and DeLoss Montgomery 
broke down the door of the jail, captured the 
sheriff and held him locked up in a store. They 
broke down the door of the cell and Bates was ta- 
ken to a nearby barn and hung. 

Laura Belle Downey Bartlett was a little girl of 
six at the time and when called as a witness, she 
stated that a mob had taken matters in their own 
hands and that the sheriff was not responsible. 

A recently published book, "A Small World of 
Our Own" by Robert Bennett, includes stories writ- 
ten by pioneers in a contest sponsored by The Ta- 
coma Ledger in 1893. The prize for the best sto- 
ry was two round trip tickets to the World's Fair 
in Chicago. One of the stories written by William 
D. Vaughn claimed credit for organizing the "com- 
pany" that hung Bates. Vaughn was a friend of 
Byrd who had helped him by allowing Vaughn to buy 
feed from the Byrd grist mill on credit. Vaughn 
said he gathered up twenty men who used an ax, a 
crowbar and a sledge hammer to break down the jail 
door. He describes the site of the hanging as a 
nearby stable from which they had fastened a pole 
with a block and tackle hanging from it. He also 
mentions in addition to Keach and Montgomery, the 
names of Thomas Headly, M.J. West and B. Dolbear. 
Vaughn quotes Bates as saying he wanted to see 
Ezra Meeker to tell him how to dispose of his 
(Bates) property. 

Ezra Meeker is not mentioned in Mr. Athow's in- 
terview but a paper in the Byrd file in the lib- 
rary of the Washington State Historical Society 
states that an article written by Ezra Meeker in 
the Puget Sound Herald, the Steilacoom newspaper, 
stated that a cow belonging to Bates was last seen 
in a pen in Andrew Byrd's slaughter house. If 
Bates was not a rational man such a story could be 


322 


the basis for his action. The lynching mob ap- 
parently wanted to go after Meeker also, but Al- 
len Miller and a Captain Mitchell persuaded them 
to stop. Besides, the story goes, Meeker had 
"left town" for Oregon. The exact truth of the 
story may never be known but it is the essence of 
the happenings of the times. 


323 


Voting procedures questioned as early as 1886. 
Drawn by Myron Thompson, The Tacoma News Tribune. 



LIVING UNDER TACOMA'S 1886 CHARTER 

By Wilma Snyder 

Speed is not a word generally associated with the 
Washington State Legislature, but in 1886, when Ta- 
coma submitted its territorial charter to the law- 
making body, they moved with haste. The charter 
had been submitted to the city council and signed 
by the president, B.B. Day, on January 22. It was 
ratified by the House of Representatives eight days 
later, and the governor, Watson C. Squire, signed 
the charter on February 4, 1886. 

Of course, the volume of business confronting 
territorial legislators was probably minute com- 
pared to 1986 agendas, just 100 years later. Con- 
sider school issues, for instance: there was no 
negotiations law, desegregation was not an issue 
and getting "back to basics" was not a problem be- 
cause the "basics" was what school was all about. 
School support was determined in a way that would 
probably be challenged today. The city was divided 
into two school districts. East and West. Each dis- 
trict was to receive a separate and equal share 
from the common school fund of Pierce County. In 
addition, one- third of the money received by the 
city for wholesale or retail liquor licenses in 
their respective districts also went to school sup- 
port. "Quality" education evidently depended on 
quantity consumption of "spirits." 

The corporate limits of Tacoma, as established by 
the charter, were Commencement Bay as the eastern 
boundary, Adams Street the western, the Puyallup 
Indian Reservation to the south, and the Pierce 
County line on the north. This area joined togeth- 
er Old Tacoma, which had been incorporated in 1875, 
and New Tacoma, whose limits had been defined in 
ei ghteen-ei ghty- three . 


325 


The city was divided into four wards with each 
ward allowed two representatives to the city coun- 
cil. Appointed by the council were the city clerk, 
assessor, chief of police, health officer, fire 
wardens, harbormaster and committee magistrates. 
The city attorney, treasurer, street commissioner 
and surveyor were elected by the citizens at large. 

The city magistrates functioned similarly to 
present day justices of the peace. They had jur- 
isdiction to hear and determine, without a jury, 
all complaints of violations of any ordinance. The 
complaints could be either civil or criminal, with 
the magistrate having authority to levy fines and 
determine sentences. 

Salaries were probably typical of the times. The 
chief of police and the city clerk each received 
$125 a month, the treasurer $150, the street com- 
missioner and the city attorney $100 and policemen 
whether on day or night duty, earned $75 a month. 
The assessor was paid on a per diem basis of $4 
but the surveyor earned $5, and his assistants on- 
ly $2.50. The health officer and the fire warden 
were on a yearly stipend of $200. 

Voting regulations were exacting and strict in 
some aspects but lax in others. The ballot provi- 
ded by the city clerk was required to be 12 inches 
long and four inches wide with one-half inch allow- 
ed for error on the length and one-quarter inch on 
the width. 

If any ballot appeared to differ by size, color, 
texture or appearance from the ones provided, it 
was rejected. Rejection was also the fate of two 
ballots marked and folded together. 

After the election, ballots were returned from 
the precincts to the clerk's office in a sealed 
envelope. The clerk endorsed the envelope and all 
envelopes were then given to the city council, 
which did the counting. After the counting, the 


326 


ballots were again deposited in still another en- 
velope, dated and retained intact for six months. 

With such strict procedures, it is provocative 
to wonder if any consideration was given to the 
fact that incumbents were in a position to count 
their own votes. 

City officials who absented themselves from the 
city for too long were looked upon with disfavor. 

If the mayor, clerk, treasurer or assessor were 
absent from the city for 60 days, a vacancy was 
declared. Twenty days away from the city was con- 
sidered sufficient to declare a vacancy for the 
chief of police or any of the magistrates. 

Councilmen were allowed only three absences with- 
out consent before their positions were declared 
vacant. The council could expel its own members 
for improper conduct by a two-thirds vote. There 
was no mention of a citizens' recall in the char- 
ter. 

The council regulated the storage, transportation 
and sale of all explosives; punished fast or immod- 
erate drivers of horses; regulated the driving of 
stock through the streets; and required citizens 
to keep their property and adjacent streets and al- 
leys clean from "things dangerous and offensive." 

The council could also declare "houses of ill 
fame" and gambling houses as nuisances and levy 
fines under that charge. Gaming tables, no matter 
where their location, were considered to be of nui- 
sance value. Mentioned in this section were "pig- 
eon hole or Jenny Lind bagatelle tables" but no de- 
scription was given. The dictionary defines baga- 
telle as a game played with a cue and balls on an 
oblong table having cups or arches at one end. It 
sounds like "River City's pool halls." So early 
Tacoma may have had trouble with its youth "hanging 
out" in what were considered undesirable places. 


327 


Travelers to the city, whether arriving by land 
or water, were generally met by hack drivers or 
hotel runners who tried to stimulate business for 
their respective establishments. Runners could 
not remain on a dock or roadway without permission 
of the owner and could not use a "loud voice in 
soliciting business." Nor were they allowed to 
take hold of any baggage belonging to a traveler 
without "his or her" permission. The "her" in the 
last sentence is about the only privilege mention- 
ed for women in the entire charter. 

There was a restriction against women, however, 
and that applied to their employment in any estab- 
lishment which served intoxicating drinks. If an 
owner of a business attempted to hire the 1886 
equivalent of a cocktail waitress, he was fined 
from $25 to $50. 

The more serious discrimination, however, was 
against the hiring of Chinese or "coolies" as they 
were called, for employment on any public works 
project. Violation of this ordinance invalidated 
the work contract. 

There were several offenses which might be pun- 
ished by jail sentences of from five to thirty 
days and fines of from $10 to $100. Such offenses 
were drunkenness, abandoning families, loitering 
in the streets, disposing of garbage within the 
city limits or the selling or smoking of opium. 

Even 100 years ago air pollution was considered 
an offense, as the allowing of noxious exhalations 
or offensive smells, which were dangerous to the 
health or comfort of the citizens, were prohibited. 

If you didn't want to end up in the "pokey" you 
refrained from fighting or using profane language 
in public, defacement of property, or carrying a 
concealed weapon. Prisoners in city jails were 
compelled to work eight hours a day on ci ty streets , 
public grounds or buildings on every day but Sunday. 


328 


They were required to wear an ordinary ball and 
chain while performing such labor. One wonders if 
this were a deterrent to crime. The system prob- 
ably wouldn't work now as prisoners might be con- 
sidered too dangerous to be on the streets, and if 
not dangerous, the American Civil Liberties Union 
would be defending them. 

Taxation lists had to be furnished by all prop- 
erty owners who had real estate within the city or 
other property liable to taxation. Failure to pro- 
vide the list had a penalty of $100. Taxes for 
all municipal purposes were not to exceed one-half 
of one per cent per annum upon property, whether 
real or personal. A poll tax of not less than five 
mills on every dollar's worth of property was col- 
lected for expenditures on streets and roads. It 
was levied on every male inhabitant between the 
ages of 21 and 50 except paupers, insane persons or 
any fireman who had served for a year. Since it 
was labeled a poll tax and levied only on males, it 
was apparent that women did not have the privilege 
of the vote. 

Delinquent taxpayers were charged a fee of ten 
per cent, and if the poll tax was not paid, employ- 
ers could pay the amount to the city from the sal- 
ary of the delinquent citizen. 

Present city council members might feel that the 
1886 charter would be difficult for efficient oper- 
ation of business of the city today, but 100 years 
ago it was probably pretty functional. 


329 


SIGNS OF THE TIMES 

By Robert Doubleday 

While driving down Center Street recently I 
thought about the time when the Pacific Highway 
(which is now 1-5) meandered down South Tacoma Way 
to M Street and then made its wrenching way 
through town, turning left on M to Center Street, 
right on Center to South 25th, right to Pacific 
Avenue, left to South 24th Street (Puyallup Aven- 
ue), and right again, headed east for the brick- 
paved West Valley Road" to Seattle. Can you ima- 
gine present day 1-5 traffic negotiating that tor- 
tuous path through town? 

The automobile's effect upon Tacoma was begin- 
ning to be felt in 1905 when the State first re- 
quired licensing of private vehicles. The earli- 
est Washington automobile license was issued to 
S. A. Perkins of Tacoma, who registered his Pope- 
Toledo with the Secretary of State and paid his $2 
license fee. The law required that "all machines 
shall be numbered with a numeral assigned to the 
owner by the Secretary of State." Perkins was is- 
sued No. One. Other Tacomans who registered their 
autos in that year were: W. R. Rust, Frank Allyn, 
Jr., Carl Stebbins, R. Vaeth, F. S. Harmon, C. M. 
Seeley and J. M. Bell. 

Interestingly, there were no automobiles regis- 
tered that year in Spokane. A reporter for the 
Tacoma Daily Ledger made wry comments about the 
bucolic nature of the residents of that city. 

Peoples Department Store announced proudly in 
1906 that it was putting into service the first 
delivery truck in Tacoma. The only condescension 
to traffic safety at the time was that autos were 
required to use "red and white lights during the 
hours of darkness" and speeds were not to exceed 
"twelve miles per hour in cities and 24 miles per 
hour in the country" -- an adventurous rate in 


330 


view of the state of the roads. 


It wasn't until 1921 that the State got around 
to licensing the operators of automobiles. I re- 
call how indignant my father was when he learned 
that it would be necessary for him to apply for a 
permit to drive his own car! He was outraged at 
this infringement on his liberties. 

Tacoma had no traffic problems, as we have come 
to know them, but that happy condition was soon to 
change. The first indication of things to come 
was a report in the Tacoma Daily Ledger on May 13, 
1906 announcing the installation of the "first au- 
tomobile danger sign on the North Pacific Coast 
which warned drivers to observe a speed limit of 4 
miles per hour for going down the S-shaped hill at 
Halfway Park, a mile beyond South Tacoma." The 
picture accompanying this story shows W. W. Picker- 
ell, president of the Tacoma Auto Club, standing up 
in his ancient vehicle and fixing the warning sign 
to a utility pole. 

The control and direction of traffic were almost 
non-existent. A driver who had to pass through any 
city on the way to his destination was guided by 
information extracted from friends, garage mechan- 
ics (there were few gas stations) or from trade pub- 
lications. The driver was advised to keep his eye 
peeled for certain landmarks and the instructions 
would run something like this: "Proceed into town 
until you reach a red frame building on your right 
at which point turn left for three blocks to the 
creamery building. Turn right, crossing the street- 
car tracks and proceed on until you reach the high 
school. Then turn left three blocks to McCormick's 
Garage. Turn right and proceed on your way out of 
town on brick road." There was no highway numbering 
system and no uniformity as to direction or traffic 
signs, where they existed. 

Foggy weather brought especially nasty problems to 
the driver. Most of the city's streets were dark or, 
at best, poorly lit; automobile headlights were woe- 


331 


fully inadequate, and the painted center stripe 
had not yet been thought of. If you got caught 
out on one of those fog-bound nights, you probably 
chose to ride the streetcar home and go back the 
next day to retrieve your automobile. That hap- 
pened to us more than once. The more daring souls 
might navigate the course by sticking their heads 
out the window and keeping one eye on the street- 
car track and the other on the road ahead, crawl- 
ing along and hoping for a familiar landmark. I 
may be wrong in this, but I believe that Tacoma 
had some fearsome fogs in my earlier years--much 
worse than we have experienced recently. Almost 
every winter was plagued with these spells. 

Our infatuation with the automobile and its sub- 
sequent proliferation brought an end to these inno- 
cent times. We began to kill and maim ourselves 
rather indiscriminately on the city streets, and 
some parties were finally moved to do something to 
stem the mayhem and to encourage order out of what 
was beginning to be seen as chaos. Traffic control 
devices began to blossom in the 1920 's. I recall 
when South J Street, in our old neighborhood, was 
designated as an arterial street and its length 
was adorned with the first stop signs in my ken. 
They were cast-iron devices, shaped like an over- 
sized grapefruit section and planted flat side 
down, in the middle of the street. They bore the 
word STOP, surrounded by red paint. They were not 
easily seen, but if you ran over one, you would 
know it and so would most of your anatomy. 

The downtown intersections were the scenes of the 
greatest violence and conditions finally reached 
the point where a policeman was assigned to the 
busiest of these, 11 th and Broadway, where he as- 
sumed a post in the middle of the intersection and 
manipulated, by hand, a semaphore device to effect 
some sort of control over the goings-on. When the 
semaphore wasn't in use it stood on the sidewalk on 
the northeast corner, I believe. Crude as it was, 
it worked fine for a number of years until some 


332 


wiseacre invented the electrically operated stop- 
and-go sign with which we have been blessed, or 
cursed, ever since. 

H. Dyer Dyment, Commissioner of Public Safety, on 
March 22, 1927, pulled a lever in the central fire 
station to start in operation the city's first 
"automatic signals to regulate traffic on down- 
town streets" as reported in the Tacoma News Tri - 
bune of that date. The new lights went into ac- 
tion at 10:30 a.m., and within two minutes, the 
"first casualty was reported. One truck, disre- 
garding the stop sign, crashed into another.... 
both pedestrian and automobile traffic were far 
above normal when the lights went into action." 
Apparently the excitement of the event drew gawk- 
ers from all over. It was a big day in Tacoma! 

The Pacific Highway route through the city was 
straightened and shortened considerably when the 
stretch through Gal 1 i her 1 s Gulch was completed in 
1931 and named Wakefield Drive. Nelson Hong, in 
his column in the Tacoma News Tribune, dated March 
19, 1929, reported that "one of the finest highway 
links in the Pacific Northwest is being constructed 
in Galliher Gulch, for years a resting place for 
discarded automobile fenders and tin cans ...com- 
pletion will connect Puyallup Avenue with South 
Tacoma Avenue..." ( Gal 1 i her ' s Gulch will forever 
stand clear in my memory as the place where I pick- 
ed watercress with my grandmother when I was very 
young. It was also the site of the first electric 
power generating plant in the city.) 

There was a great to-do in the 1 940 1 s over the 
substitution of corner-mounted signal lights for 
those in the center of the downtown intersections 
and the stilling of the bell that announced the 
change of the stop and go lights. The blind ob- 
jected to the silencing of the bells so they were 
reactivated in 1946, but were turned off once more, 
after a short time. 

During the war years, the rapid growth on the 


333 


tideflats badly overtaxed the city's streets and 
there were numerous indignation meetings and com- 
plaints made by shipyard workers that it took them 
an hour-and-a-half to get home from work. 

In 1943, a push-button pedestrian traffic light 
was installed in front of the Union Depot to give 
passengers a better chance of making it across 
busy Pacific Avenue without being run over about 
six times. Similar lights were installed on 
Broadway at 10th and 12th Streets. 

In 1950, the city established a Traffic Engineer- 
ing Division as a part of the Public Works Depart- 
ment, and this division took over from the Police 
Department, the task of designing traffic control 
systems and overseeing their installation and 
maintenance. The Police Department retained its 
responsibility for traffic law enforcement. 

Nineteen-fifty saw the first electronical ly con- 
trolled signal light installed at the most hazard- 
ous intersection in town, at South 38th and South 
Tacoma Way, as described in the Ledger's story on 
December 31, 1950: "A model 1033 Super electro- 
matic, three-phase volume density dispatcher ... 
was installed ... to control traffic at one of the 
busiest intersections in the city." We must re- 
member that Pacific Highway traffic was passing 
through that intersection at the time. 

A nostalgic note for those of you who may remem- 
ber the old Sperry Mill tunnel or what was then 
known as "Bayside Drive": traffic signals were 
installed on each end of the tunnel in 1958 to 
forestall a head-on accident in that dark, drip- 
ping passageway. 

In 1957 the city cops began using radar to nab 
the unwary speeders and in the sixties several 
streets were restricted to one-way traffic, a de- 
cision which immediately evoked outcries from bus- 
inessmen and which was subsequently modified to 
restore peace in the commercial community. 


334 


Today, Tacoma has over 300 electric signal 
lights, and so many signs of all descriptions that 
someone has surely lost count. Oddly, one sign 
seems to be missing. I remember as a youngster, 
seeing signs downtown admonishing all not to spit 
on the sidewalk. I haven't seen such a sign in 
years! 


Front and reverse side of State of Washington 
Driver's License, 1925. Courtesy of Terry Grant. 

-r» ~~ - • - ipi-, - , -« - - - — • — 

8. T. No. Hffi-1921. Approved bp Dept of Efficiency. Receipt n 2 t) 3 53..^.... 

State of Washingtfla— Department of licenses ! - 

, < Motor Vehicle OPERATOR’S License j . . 

The person named and described hereon and whose signature appears below to 
hereby licensed to operate motor vehicles ppon the highways of this State until , 
July SI. 1825. 


Age— 2 3 


Set 



V L 01 tB 
43O Ravenna 
Beattie, Wn 



NEW LAW i 

- r 

Slow to 12 miles per 
hoar At all railroad 
crossings. ; • 

Rales of the road on 
opposite side of this 
license. 


(Signature vf LUxmei 
'Jr 

I 


-n-f—r - — 





• RULES OP THE ROAD 

. only when you have clear vision ahead for three hundred yards Do 

not pass overtaken vehicles on a curve. before passing a standing street 

Jr5 r * 5 se caution lnjiasslng animals. The /ehicle on the right has the right, 
of-way at intersections. Obey the traffic signs and traffic officers. Slow ud 
on tne curves. v - i 

! PARKING on pavement or main traveled roadway Is forbidden Do not 

a t park n ed 0U ve V hlcle D at nigh^ Withm “ fe , et ° f a flr * hydrant - *“* °° 

f °, r truck ? 25 m 11 * 8 her hour and slower for heavier trucka 
‘JL 1 ,* ’ o 3 °, T e 3 ■ ! ? er dour in Ule country. 20 In towns and cities. 12 at 

houri Obly 8 the ?peed al lfm a ? p3S3 ' ng schoola durin *? 

G 1 v e^ c'orre ct^ inf or m at 1 cm f t o °a n wiVne ss 2 o r^part 1 c*i 1 ^ ° r ° f P ° 1,Ce - 

, RECKLESS driving, that is driving so as to endanger or inconvenience 
other users of the highways is forbidden. 5 inconvenience 

LIGHTS must not blind the o^her driver. If yours do get them fixed. 

CAUTIONS 

> Watch out for the children, jfilow up for their safety. 

Do not drive close to the edge of a built-up gravel road, 
of such roads are liable to give way and turn you over. | 

When in doubt be on the sate side. Never take a chance. 

KEEP TO THE RIGHT. GO SLOWLY ON WET PAVEMENTS. 


The shoulders 


I 

_L 


L 


/ 


335 



The old Sperry Flour Mill. Drawn by Myron Thomp- 
son, The Tacoma News Tribune. 


336 



TACOMA'S FLOURY PAST 

By Phyllis Kaiser 


"Flour Mills Add Much to Tacoma's Prosperity." 

That was the caption of an article in a 1909 issue 
of the Tacoma Ledger . The article described Tacoma 
as the most important grain market and flour mill- 
ing center west of Minneapolis and Kansas City. 

What a contrast between 1909 and 1988! Today no 
flour mills and only one grain terminal remain; 
Continental's modern computerized plant at 11 Schus- 
ter Parkway. One might wonder, "What happened?" 

Watson and Bradley Company, better known as the 
Watson and Olds Company, pioneered Tacoma's flour 
industry in a mill located on East D and 23rd 
Street at the head of City waterway. The mill 
ground its first barrel of flour on June 5, 1885, 
with a capacity of 150 barrels of flour and 60 bar- 
rels of cereal a day. It was the first roller pro- 
cess mill on Puget Sound. Portland's roller pro- 
cess mill, resentful of the Tacoma mill cutting in- 
to their flour trade, lowered their price $1 per 
barrel on the Watson Mill's first day of operation. 
The rivalry for trade between Portland and Tacoma 
would ensue for many years to come. 

William and John Watson, brothers, had sold a 
flour business in Missouri; loaded their sawmill 
machinery, household goods and three teams of hors- 
es onto freight cars and started for Tacoma. The 
year was 1883 and before the year ended, a sawmill 
was operating in Bismarck with John Watson in charge. 
The following year William Watson and William Brad- 
ley began construction of the flour mill. The grain 
storage bins were built with sturdy 2x8 planks cut 
at their sawmill. In the meantime the sawmill was 
sold and John Watson became head miller with his 
brother William as assistant. After a year of oper- 
ation Fred A. Olds and his son, Fred T. Olds, bought 
into the business and it became the Watson & Olds 


337 


Company. By 1900 it was known as the best flour 
and cereal plant in the Pacific Northwest and sev- 
eral good offers were made to buy it. The mill 
was sold (about 1908) for $40,000, dismantled, and 
moved to Seattle. John and William went to work 
at the Kenworthy Feed and Milling Company in South 
Tacoma, working there as millers until retirement. 

Flour milling was one of the first industries to 
get a big start on Tacoma's waterfront. Three ma- 
jor flour mills had their beginning on Waterfront 
Road, or Dock Street. They grew and developed in- 
to modern plants with grain sources extending to 
Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Canada, as well as East- 
ern Washington. By 1940, when the three mills were 
running at capacity, they combined in milling ap- 
proximately 6,000 railcars of wheat per year. 

The Puget Sound Flouring Mill was established in 
1889 at 611 North Dock Street on property belong- 
ing to the Northern Pacific Railroad. During con- 
struction, part of the bluff above the tracks was 
excavated and used as fill for the dock. Work was 
done by hand; laborers shoveled earth into hand- 
trucks on narrow-gauge "rails" and rolled them to 
the fill site. They worked day and night to com- 
plete the job. The large dock with deep water mo- 
orage had the additional advantage of railroad 
tracks adjacent to the building. It later became 
known as Sperry Ocean Dock and accommodated ocean 
plying vessels. 

Centennial Flouring Mill originated about 1890 on 
North Waterfront Road; prior to that time it had 
been only a grain shipping concern. W. W. Glen was 
manager of the Tacoma division when fire destroyed 
the mill in 1947. Centennial then moved to a new 
location in the former Younglove Grocery Building, 
leased from the Northern Pacific Railroad. 

Albers Brothers Milling Company erected their 
large mill on the city waterway at 1821 Dock Street 
in 1905. They produced high grade cereal s made from 


338 


wheat, oats and other select grains. Their large 
neon sign reading "Albers Peacock Flour," with a 
colorful peacock on top and a miner below, active- 
ly flipping flapjacks on a griddle, was visible 
from downtown Tacoma. 

Sperry Flour Mills had its' start in Stockton, 
California. The founder, Austin Sperry, was a New 
Englander who went to California during the gold 
rush. The discovery of gold provided Pacific coast 
flour mills a twenty-year period of prosperity. 

Many 49ers left gold prospecting and turned to 
farming; Sperry turned to flour. Flour generally 
sold in California for $5 a barrel but at the mines 
it sold for $25 a barrel. Sperry's milling busi- 
ness grew and expanded. In September 1922 he pur- 
chased the Puget Sound Flour Mill in Tacoma and 
renamed it Sperry "C" Mill; most of the plant's 
six-story structure was built after this acquisi- 
tion. General Mills gradually absorbed all of 
Sperry's mills, renaming them Sperry Division of 
General Mills. 

Do you remember the Sperry Tunnel - the narrow, 
dark, perpetually wet tunnel that passed under the 
Sperry Mill adjacent to the bluff? In the early 
1900' s streetcars traveled from downtown Tacoma 
along Dock Street as far as the tunnel entrance 
where passengers disembarked and walked to their 
homes in Old Town. Later one-way automobile traf- 
fic was permitted and was regulated by electric 
"stop and go" signals at either entrance. 

Sperry Division of General Mills had a Quarter 
Century Club. In 1953 seven men from Tacoma - Lee 
Hazelton, Edward Brunoff, James McBride, Edgar Tut- 
tle, Leo Lacey, Maurice Were and Dewey Kelley, went 
to San Francisco to receive recognition. Newly 
elected officers that year from Tacoma were Paul 
Folquet, Joseph DeHaan and Claude Ilton. 

Some first-person stories were taped in 1976, in- 
terviews conducted by Ruth Wett, working under the 


339 


CETA Program for the Tacoma Public Library. Glen 
Apthorp, who had been a miller for forty years at 
Sperry, from 1924 to 1964, told of hi s experiences. 
(Ray, his brother, gave permission in 1986 to use 
information from that interview.) Glen's career 
at Sperry began as an oiler, working his way up to 
grinder. He had the very fine touch needed for 
grinding flour in those early days and he took 
pride in being able to get more flour from a 
bushel of wheat than any of his coworkers. The 
mill was run by steam power until 1920 or 1922, 
when a large electric motor was installed. Changes 
were continually made to improve milling during 
his forty years at Sperry; he felt wages were good 
and was proud of the years he worked as a miller. 

Ralph Clair was in charge of the small mill where 
Glen worked most of those forty years. Depression 
years affected the mill and production was reduced 
to a part-time schedule. World War II also had an 
effect on the mill; men were drafted and Sperry was 
faced with a manpower shortage. Shifts were ex- 
tended from the usual eight hours to twelve. Glen 
trained Clair's young son to be a miller during the 
manpower shortage. The young man had been around 
the mill since a small child. Glen could remember 
him as a child, playing in flour that had spilled 
on the floor and coloring himself white with the 
dust. 

The mill had its dangers too. The worst accident 
Glen saw was a man caught by a moving belt. The man 
grabbed the corner of a reel with both hands and 
hung on for dear life. The belt tore off every 
piece of his clothing, right down to his shoes, even 
the tops of his socks. "There he was, hanging onto 
that reel, naked as a jay-bird," Glen said. 

Cleanliness was essential in running a flour mill 
and all employees worked to keep the standard. Glen 
told of the time he first started working at Sperry 
on the night shift. Walking down the stairs inside 
the grain elevator he was confronted by rats. "I had 


340 


to kick them out of the way so I could walk down 
the steps," he said. "Those rats stood up and 
just dared you to kick them." He recalled many 
men who, afraid of the rats, refused to wal k through 
the elevator at night. Traps were used rather than 
poison, which could possibly have contaminated the 
fl our. 

Fumigation was done annually to eliminate pests 
such as weevils and flour millers (insects). On 
one occasion when Glen was assisting Clair with the 
cyanide used in fumigation, the unexpected happened. 
Glen had started to clean one of the crocks they 
had used and was overcome by the gas. In his words, 
"A fellow worker pulled me outside and started blow- 
ing in my mouth. At one time the same worker had 
seen a swallow fall, blew in its 1 mouth, and the 
swallow flew away." Like the swallow, the treat- 
ment worked for Glen. He credited the workman with 
saving his life. 

As the costs of producing flour mounted, profits 
dwindled. In 1965 General Mills stunned everyone 
with their announcement to close 17 plants, includ- 
ing Tacoma's. The closure would affect 175 workers. 
July 18, 1965 was the last day the Tacoma plant 
operated. The building remained empty for years 
until 1973 when the wrecker's ball moved in to de- 
molish the grain silos, plant, and thus the tunnel. 
The City of Tacoma was planning to construct Bay- 
side Drive along the waterfront and the old mill 
stood in the way of the project. 

Since those early years wheat production and flour 
milling have become sophisticated operations. Sci- 
entific studies have determined wheat provides one- 
fourth of all the protein in our menus plus forty 
percent of the thiamine. Thus the old proverb, 
"Bread is the staff of life," is well founded. 


341 


OUT OF THE BLUE 

By Mary Etta Doubleday 

So, what would YOU think if your electric heater 
started playing music and you heard a man's voice 
you recognized? The lady to whom this happened 
was certain that the man was under her- bed, but it 
was Paul J. Hackett who in 1915 was experimenting 
with his invention, an arc transmitter with a pow- 
erful microphone. Travelers riding the interurban 
from Tacoma to Seattle had the same mystifying ex- 
perience when Hackett' s transmissions from Kent 
Valley were picked up by the interurban 's power 

system with arc lamps in the cars acting as recei- 
vers. 

The close encounter with radio that I experienc- 
ed was not quite so eerie or primitive. It was 
1940, seven years after my graduation from Lincoln 
High School, when I went to work at radio station 
KMO whose owner was Carl Haymona. It almost seemed 
like reunion time to work with Jerry Geehan, Larry 
Huseby and Marion Krueger, whom I had known in high 
school. Jerry and Larry covered sports and did 
some selling; Marion was staff organist and pianist, 
Mr. Haymond's secretary and staff music librarian. 

I spent half a day at bookkeeping chores for ac- 
countant Paul Benton and the other half writing 
commercials. 

KMO s transmitter was near Fife and most commer- 
cials were done from there by the engineer on duty. 
Live programs and the every day business of operat- 
ing a radio station were conducted from the "smal- 
lish" studio on the second floor of a building on 
the west side of Broadway, at 914%. Almost every- 
one "doubled in brass." Engineers had announcing 
chores and sometimes even sold and serviced adver- 
tising accounts. Among the stalwarts of that time 
were Roscoe Smith, Joe Kolesar, Max Bice, Dick Ross, 
Ted Knightl inger, Jack Clark, Bert Dunn, Arnold 


342 


Benum, Don Hopkins and Win Angel. These consti tilt- 
ed a small enough staff so that excursions and par- 
ties sponsored by trie Haymonds were rather like 
family affairs. In the summer the "Gallant Lady" 
was chartered and after a cruise to a private beach 
Jerry Meeker, the celebrated local Indian, would 
build a large bonfire and when it was at the re- 
quired stage, he would surround the fire with 
sticks on which salmon filets had been threaded, 
Indian style. Enormous bowls of fresh fruit salad, 
potato said and warm loaves of garlic bread com- 
pleted the meal. One early misty morning we were 
paired in small boats at Pt. Defiance for a fish- 
ing derby; the catch was not spectacular, but the 
fun was. There were also lavish Christmas dinner 
parties with generous gifts. 

The Haymonds wintered in Palm Springs. Their 
home in Tacoma at 714 North Yakima was a gracious 
brick structure with a wrought-iron circular stair- 
case leading up from the front entranceway. The 
house was luxurious with red plush carpeting, a 
white down-filled sofa, a sunken bathtub off the 
master bedroom, a breakfast room and maid's quar- 
ters. The house had been burglarized several times 
and since the owners did not choose to strip it of 
its lavish silver pieces and valuables when they 
went south, they looked for someone to house sit. 

We were chosen, I guess, because in those days we 
neither smoked nor drank nor indulged in "riotous 
living." We had been renting a one-bedroom house 
with wood stoves and an icebox before we moved to 
this palatial luxury in November, 1940. Needless 
to say, we crept around in it, living in dread of 
breaking or soiling an item. We also fervently 
hoped there would not be another break-in. Some- 
what to our dismay, on a spring evening the Haymonds 
arrived on their/our doorstep, completely unannounc- 
ed and unexpected. It was most fortunate that our 
housekeeping was up to date and everything in order. 
At a reunion some 30 years later, Mr. Haymond was 
reminiscing amusedly how he had bought that lovely 
house for $7,500. It was for sale in the early 1 950 ' s 


343 


for $18,000 and although we were living in Bremer- 
ton at the time, we were tempted to buy it just 
for old time s sake. Recently it was again on the 
market with a $100,000 plus tab. 

Tacoma s official introduction to radio may have 
been in 1910 when a New Yorker, William Dubilier, 
from the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition in Seattle 
transmitted messages to Bremerton and Tacoma. Half 
a million dollars had been subscribed to make Seat- 
tle the wireless phone capital of the world! But 
it was never to be. The device that changed every- 
thing was the vacuum tube. Actually the tube had 
been kicking around as a laboratory curiosity for 
years, but nobody quite knew what to do with it. 
Then a genius named Lee De Forest added to its in- 
nards a few cents' worth of wire mesh he called a 
"control grid" and the age of electronics was born. 


There followed a multitude of garage and bedroom 
broadcasting experiments by true geniuses. "Ham" 
operators were relegated to wave-lengths below 200 
meters, hence the term "short wave." The "sparks" 
(wireless operators from ships) were the main ex- 
perimenters and usually exchanged messages in 
Morse code. Not everyone welcomed radio; some felt 
electricity might leak through the wires and elec- 
trocute someone. 

In 1920 the world's first broadcast station, 

KDKA, raised its voice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 
On March 14, 1922 in Seattle, Vincent Kraft, who 
had been using the experimental call 7XC, broad- 
casting from his garage, was informed that his new 
call sign was to be KJR and broadcasting had ar- 
rived on Puget Sound. 


By 1927 national network programs were institut- 
ed with the stipulation that all programs must be 
"live." From the East Coast it was necessary, 
therefore, to broadcast the program twice. The 
second broadcast seemed to be more interesting, 
perhaps because the performers had spent the inter- 
vening two hours in a speakeasy. 


344 


In a log cabin studio on the campus of St. Mar- 
tin's College in Lacey, Father Sebastian Ruth pi- 
oneered radio in this area in 1923 and his station 
became KGY. 

In April 1912 a young American Marconi Company 
operator sat drowsily at his set, copying the 
crackling "traffic" buzzing through his headset 
when suddenly he was stunned to hear "The SS Ti- 
tanic ran into an iceberg. Sinking fast." Inci- 
dentally, Marconi had been booked on the Titanic 
but cancelled out before she sailed. The operator 
who took the message went on to become the biggest 
mogul of American broadcasting -- he was David 
Sarnoff, later the general manager of Radio Corp- 
oration of America. 

General Electric Company got into the big radio 
act in 1926 when NBC was formed. The familiar 
chimes were the actual musical notes GEC from the 
musical scale and also representing the company's 
name . 

Money was no problem in 1924 when Roy and Elise 
Olmstead decided to start a station of their own. 
They were young and just married. He had been dis- 
missed from his job as a Seattle police lieutenant 
but they were fairly rolling in money and most of 
Seattle knew why. In those days of national pro- 
hibition, Olmstead was undisputed "king" of the 
Northwest's largest ring of rumrunners and bootleg- 
gers. Olmstead was no hoodlum; he didn't water his 
whiskey and never threatened or hijacked anyone. He 
was a business man and a gentleman and had as his 
customers and protectors some of Seattle's upper 
crust. It was his wife Elise who had the idea of 
starting a radio station. They bought a spacious 
old colonial house in Seattle's Mt. Baker district, 
set up a radio studio in a spare bedroom and hired 
A1 Hubbard, a bright young man, to build the trans- 
mitter which was to run a whopping 600 watts or 
more. It would be the Northwest's most powerful 
radio voice. Hubbard did so well that Olmstead made 


345 


him a lieutenant in his booze-smuggling operation, 
then hired Nick Foster to manage the radio sta- 
tion. It was Elise who really ran the station. 

They went on the air as KFQX for four hours each 
night with stock market, weather and news reports, 
and the most popular program of all, "Aunt Vivian' s 
Bedtime Stories" for children. Legend has it that 
the stories were in reality code messages for her 
husband's far flung network of rum-runners, giving 
coded information for landing and unloading their 
cargoes. The prohibition enforcers, a tough, ag- 
gressive force, were hard at work trying to nail 
Olmstead. They finally scored on November 17, 

1924, with a big raid on a stormy night, and haul- 
ed the erstwhile radio station owner, "Aunt Vivi- 
an" and several cohorts off to jail. Then started 
a trial whose aftermath went all the way to the 
Supreme Court. Meanwhile, JDlmstead's trusted book- 
keeper stuffed most of the liquor empire's cash 
into the pockets of a trick overcoat, pointed his 
souped-up Stuts-Bearcat toward Canada, and was ne- 
ver heard from again. The station was sold to 
Vincent Kraft in 1926 and operated as KXA. 

Many were the fluffs that bedeviled announcers 
then as now. KJR was presenting a dance program 
with Vic Meyers' orchestra. (Meyers later became 
a long-lasting Washington lieutenant governor.) 

The musicians played their introductory "bridge" 
and the announcer suavely named the next number - 
"She Sits Among the Sheltering Palms" - a popular 
number of that day; only he bobbled the second 
word. There was no way to take it back, of course, 
everything was live in those days. The band stop- 
ped - nobody could blow a note. One violin manag- 
ed a few squeaks and the pianist tinkled in des- 
peration. Meyers swung his baton furiously and at 
length they all got through the song. Bob Nichols 
who went to greener pastures from Seattle, was an- 
nouncing over NBC from California for Eastman Ko- 
dak, something about shooting snapshots of ships 
at San Francisco; he had a similar problem. Bob 
Ackerly did several newscasts a day for KJR in his 


346 


pleasant but business-like baritone voice and was 
always introduced as "Your Totem News Reporter," 
until one day it came out as "Your Tootem Nose 
Reporter is on the air." It was hard to do the 
news for days and days after that. 

Until World War II Tacoma had only two stations, 
KMO and KVI. A third was licensed in 1941, KTBI, 
which later became KTAC. Carl Haymond, who had 
been in radio in Seattle, decided to buy his own 
station. KMO in Tacoma had started as 7XV, a ham 
rig, in Howard Reichert's house at North 9th and L 
Street. Haymond offered to buy it but needed three 
thousand dollars and had only the equity in his 
house which netted him $2,000. He finally found a 
backer to loan him the money and to go into part- 
nership with him and they bought KMO in 1926. Then 
Haymond discovered that the fellow he bought the 
station from didn't actually own it but the true 
owner was kind enough to go along with the deal. 

That summer KMO had its inaugural broadcast from 
the rooftop studios over Tacoma's swank Winthrop 
Hotel, featuring everything from Bill Winder's ho- 
tel orchestra to the 10th Field Artillery Band from 
Fort Lewis. 

Up until World War II KMO's only competition was 
KVI, a 15-watt record station, which took to the 
air in 1927. KVI had a split personality; it main- 
tained studios in Seattle as well as Tacoma but 
eventually became relicensed in 1946 as a Seattle 
station. 

When the World War II started, the licensing of 
new radio stations and the manufacture of necessary 
equipment were frozen, but when the war ended, there 
was a flurry of new stations. The Tacoma News Tri- 
bune was licensed to operate KTNT FM. In 1947 there 
were probably only a few thousand FM sets in the 
Puget Sound area, but KTNT found a captive audience 
by installing receivers in all Tacoma city buses, 
thus finding a large number of listening ears for 
commercial messages. 


347 


The marvelous, miraculous magic of radio charmed 
the nation for its "shining season in the sun " 

It was engulfed and eclipsed by the birth of tele- 
vision, but has proven itself a survivor by still 
serving a most useful purpose for people whose 
eyes must be focused on other activities than the 
passing parade of television. 


Richardson, David, 
ing Co., 1980. 


"Puget Sounds", Superior Publish- 


348 


ALL ROADS LEAD TO RHODES 

By Robert Doubleday 

For some reason which probably had had nothing 
to do with logic, my mother felt that Stone-Fisher 
Company was a fancy store which catered to society 
people and charged high prices. She favored Rhodes 
Brothers and I spent many boyhood hours trooping 
through the floors of that old building on the cor- 
ner of 11th and Broadway. Much of the time I was 
bored; it was hard to work up much excitement for 
looking at dress patterns and yard goods. Mother 
would find time however, to go through the toy de- 
partment where I could entertain my fondest dreams 
and we saved the best part for last, a dish of ice 
cream in the Olympic Dairy ice cream parlor across 
the alley from Rhodes. 

The first of the Rhodes Brothers to come to Taco- 
ma from Wisconsin was Albert, who arrived in 1889. 

He was followed a year later by brother Will and in 
1892 by Henry and his family. 

Henry and Will opened their first store in 1892 
at 932 C Street (Broadway) in which they sold tea, 
coffee, spices, extracts, crockery and china, which 
they delivered to their customers by horse and wa- 
gon. They were industrious, thrifty and innovative 
businessmen and it was natural that success would 
follow. In 1893 they moved to larger quarters at 
924 C Street and paid themselves the handsome sal- 
ary of $100 a month. They moved again in 1894 to 
911 C Street, still limiting their trade goods to 
the items mentioned. While in this location they 
came dangerously close to losing their business but 
were saved by a curious turn of events resulting 
from a revision of the tariff on imported crockery 
and china. Some of their competitors who held large 
inventories of these items, were forced to sell at 
substantial losses. 


349 


From this time on the brothers' success continued 
to flourish. They plunged into the department 
store business in 1903 with a new three-story 
building erected on the northwest corner of 11th 
and Broadway. They soon needed more space and ad- 
ded fifty-five feet of Broadway frontage in 1907, 
and in 1911 they went up three floors to complete 
their six-story building. 

Typical of the wisdom he displayed in business, 
Henry Rhodes installed a toy department in his 
store, knowing that children love toys, that they 
have mothers who would be dragged into his store 
to visit the toy department and mothers have been 
known to buy things on impulse. So have fathers. 

Rhodes Department Store in Tacoma had achieved 
state-wide recognition in the 1 920 ' s and the bro- 
thers erected signs on the highways announcing that 

All roads lead to Rhodes." Each sign bore infor- 
mation on the distance to Tacoma from that point. 
This was helpful to the traveler since the State 
highway system was woefully lacking in signs; it 
was also fine publicity for the store and the city. 

The store developed into a "whopping" financial 
success, so much so that Henry, who had started 
business in Tacoma thirty years earlier with one 
thousand dollars, built in 1922 on the shores of 
Steilacoom Lake a seventy acre estate which he 

named "Rhodesleigh. " It was the showplace of the 
county. 

Henry also began to play an increasingly influ- 
ential role in Tacoma's business and civic affairs 
to the point where he felt he could no longer de- 
vote the required energy and attention to managing 
his store. His brothers Will and Albert had gone 
on to other ventures and Henry was the principal 
stockholder when he sold the store in 1925 to the 
Schlesi nger chain of Pacific Coast Stores and turn- 
ed the management reins to Mr. J. P. Toole. The 


350 


store continued its successful ways under the new 
management, not surprising since the location was 
the best in town. Henry Rhodes had left a business 
with a good reputation and wisely, the name of the 
store was not changed. 

In those days most shoppers rode the streetcar 
downtown but change was in the air and some buyers 
began to complain about parking. In 1942 Rhodes 
Brothers opened their new parking lot on Market 
Street, between 9th and 11th, under the management 
of Bill Coffin who operated the Standard Station 
on the property. This was followed years later by 
the new multi-level parking garage and sky-bridge 
connection to the store. 

In 1952 Rhodes announced proudly that escalators 
had been installed to carry patrons from the first 
to the fifth floors and "5,000 persons per hour" 
could be moved in this manner. A delightful out- 
look for the store manager but I doubt that that 
number was ever reached. 

The structure of the store was added on to many 
times over the years and as a result, there were 
curious little areas tucked away around a corner or 
between floors, that offered surprises for the 
shopper who had time to dawdle or an interest in 
just looking. Since the floors of the various add- 
itions were not always on the same level, there 
were ramps and inclines leading from one part of 
the building to another. It must have been a night- 
mare for the building maintenance people but it 
made an interesting experience for the shopper. 

The store had a number of managers following Hen- 
ry Rhodes but one of these may deserve special men- 
tion. It was announced in 1951 that Miss Alice 
Humble, who had been with the store since 1914, 
would become the new general manager, one of only 
two women in the country to hold such a position. 
Miss Humble lived with her sisters, Edith and Grace 
at the family home at 3416 North Villard. 


351 


Others may remember with me the lending 1 ibrary, 
the coffee shop on the mezzanine overlooking the 
main floor, the tearoom on the roof, the pneumat- 
ic tube cash system, the animated show windows at 
Christmas and the marquee where we took shelter 
on a rainy day to wait for the cable car. 

The opening of the new Rhodes store at the Taco- 
ma Mall in 1973 signaled the end of operation at 
11th and Broadway and the old store was closed at 
the finish of the business day on December 28, 
1974, after serving at that location for seventy- 
one years. It was a sad day for those of us who 
loved Rhodes Brothers and the down town. 


Rhodes Department Store road siqn. Courtesy of 
Edith Hoff. a 



352 


The following recipes were served in the tearoom 
in the Rhodes Brothers Department Store whicn was 
located in the north balcony overlooking the men's 
department. The recipes were given to Mrs. David 
McLennan, circa 1940, by the operator of the shop. 

BAKED SEA FOOD SALAD 

1 lb crab Mix together lightly as if 

1/2 lb shrimp for salad, place in buttered 

4 c diced celery casserole with buttered 
Juice of onion crumbs on top and bake in 

1/2 green pepper, 350° oven for about half an 

finely chopped hour, just to heat through. 

2 c_mayonnaise Serves six. 

PECAN OR WALNUT PIE 


1 c dark Karo syrup 
4 tbsp melted butter 
1 tsp vanilla 
1/4 tsp salt 


1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1/2 c sugar 
3 eggs 

1 c broken pecans 


Mix sugar, salt, syrup and melted butter. Beat 
eggs into mixture, one at a time. Add cinnamon, 
vanilla and pecans. Pour into 9" unbaked pie 
she^l and bake in 450° oven for ten minutes at 
325 for 35 minutes or until a silver knife in- 
serted in center of pie comes out clean. 


353 


MABEL ENGEBRETSEN BUNGE: 

By Amel ia Haller 

The date was September 10, 1891. With a midwife 
assisting, Mabel Engebretsen (Bunge) was born in a 
house on a float in Tacoma Harbor. The house and 
float were moored opposite the Foss boathouse 
Henry Foss, founder of the Foss Tugboat Company, 
had been born just five days before Mabel. Their 
mothers often exchanged notes and comparisons on 
their babies' growth and welfare. 

Mabel s memories of her early days are fresher 
than if she were speaking of today's events. From 
her Sherwood Villa Retirement home she remembers. 

My father ran the old Tacoma boathouse for awhile. 
My sister Ruth was born there. I guess it's gone 

now. Later we moved to 1945 So. E Street where my 
brother was born . " 

Around 1896 her family moved from Tacoma to a ca- 
bin on the banks of the Puyallup River. (Today the 
city Sewage Treatment Plant at 2201 Portland Avenue 
is located near this site.) Mabel tells of sitting 
in their cow pasture and watching Indians proceed 
in a grand procession up the river. 

"Some canoes held several generations of a family 
and all of their camping equipment. They were on 
their way up the river to the Puyallup Valley to 
engage in hop picking. Some of the Indians came 
from as far away as British Columbia. They must 
have been guided by the moon and stars because they 

had no navigation equipment to assist them at that 
time. 

In the autumn Indians would come to her parents' 
cabin and barter for salmon which herfather caught. 
They brought huge Indian baskets filled with pro-' 
duce: berries, apples, carrots, and other fruits 
and vegetables. 


354 


"I believe they raised them on their reserva- 
tion. When they came to barter they would make a 
bargain then point to one extra nice fish and say, 
'That for Potlatch.' Of course, father would 
give it to them." 

Sometimes Mabel and her sister, Ruth, accompani- 
ed their father to observe the Potlatch. This In- 
dian feast and celebration was held on the oppo- 
site side of the river from their cabin. Ruth 
would be hoisted up onto her father's shoulders 
for a better view. 

"Several Indians were our friends. That was why 
we were invited. They would have quite a festival . 
Some of the well-to-do Indians would feed all com- 
ers. And there would be gambling games; bone 
games they were called." 

One of Mabel's most vivid memories is of the 
time the sailing ship, the Andelana, sank in Taco- 
ma Harbor. Her father fished for salmon using 
drift and gill nets. On January 14, 1899 he rowed 
his small boat from their cabin out into Puget 
Sound and was drifting about 400 feet from the An- 
delana, a four-master sailing ship. The ship had 
arrived in Tacoma from China, unloaded its cargo 
and dumped its ballast, preparing to take on Wash- 
ington wheat for Liverpool, England. Since it was 
without cargo and ballast the ship rode high in 
the water, making it a good target for a squall. 
Mabel knows the details quite well. 

"Father had gone out to catch a good tide and 
was drifting for fish when he saw the big ship go 
down. A real stiff wind came up, harder than it 
had been all night. He heard the snap of a chain 
and the ship dipped her masts to the Sound and 
went right down to the bottom. All on board went 
down with her and they are still there." 

"Father had to work real hard to keep from being 
caught in the undertow. There were huge waves. 


355 


bigger than they had been all night. It took all 
his strength to stay away from the sinking ship." 

Although newspaper articles at that time do not 
mention any eye witnesses, Mabel knows that there 
was at least one. "I distinctly remember father 
coming home that morning and telling us about it. 
When we were older he would row us across the ri- 
ver for picnics, and when we came near the place 
where the Andelana sank he always pointed to the 
place and told his story to us again. For years 
I never dreamed that no one else had seen the tra- 
gedy." 

Mabel and her family lived for almost twenty 
years on the banks of the Puyallup River. She 
graduated from Tacoma High School (Stadium High 
School). Among her many accomplishments were 
stenographer, photographer, poet and writer. 

On January 1, 1921 she married Alexander Bunge 
and moved to Fife, where they raised three sons: 
Robert, Walter and Harold. It was in Fife that 
she and her husband started growing blueberries, 
and Mabel became active in the Blueberry Growers 
Association. She served this organization as sec- 
retary and treasurer for many years. About four 
years ago she retired from the two positions. 

Mabel is still active in the writing field. She 
recently published an article in The Good Old Days. 
Also, in April of this year, she received a check 
for $50, payment for second place in the Ashford 
Oregon Poetry Contest. 

Although she remembers her youth on the Puyallup 
River bank as a special time, she still enjoys ev- 
ery day at the grand age of 93. 


356 



Plummer's Engineer Corps at work near Tacoma. 

From left, G. H. Plummer, unknown, F. G. Plummer, 
H. M. Sarvant and W. I. Lowry. Taken northeast 
of Gravelly Lake, Pierce County, WA, January 31, 
1891. Courtesy of Washington State Historical 
Museum. 


357 


DEAR PAPA 

A Story of the Plummers, 1883-1889 
By Charlotte Plummer Medlock 

Introduction 


Frederick Gordon Plummer, my uncle, the emigrant 
in my story, was representative of so many very 
capable young men who came west from eastern cities 
during the 1880 s. They came seeking opportuni ties 
for themselves, family members and close friends. 

In some cases these expeditions were ill-timed 
and Fred s was no exception. When he arrived in 
the summer of 1884, New Tacoma was suffering from 
an economic recession. 

The joys and frustrations he experienced on his 
journey, and with his contacts in Washington Terri- 
tory during the 1884-1888 period, are related 
largely by the use of a precious few old letters. 
Some of the lengthy portions and some passages un- 
related to Tacoma have been deleted; to add inter- 
est and clarity notes are inserted between letters. 


"On January 16, 1884, Henry Ward Beecher, lec- 
turing in Brooklyn on a western trip he had just 
concluded, said: 'If I were young I'd settle in 
Washington Territory. It is going to be the Italy 
of America. This declaration was widely printed 
and had a considerable effect on travel to the 
northwest. It was an echo of Horace Greely's fa- 
mous injunction. Among those who sat in Beecher's 
audience that evening was George W. Plummer who, 
after the lecture, went forward and asked the prea- 
cher, ...for further information. Beecher enthusi- 
astically added much to what he had said from his 

pulpit..." History of Tacoma, Herbert Hunt, Vol 1 
Page 312. 


358 


The renowned Reverend Beecher, a Northern Paci- 
fic Railroad promoter for Samuel Wilkeson, Sr. 
(Secretary of the Northern Pacific Railroad), 
and Jay Cooke, obviously recommended New Ta- 
coma to Mr. Plummer. He was in the city 
August 28, 1883, and gave a lecture at the 
Alpha Opera House. During his stay as a 
guest of Mr. A.J. Baker, President of the 
New Tacoma Bank, he learned of the city's 
great potential. It was the terminus of the 
Northern Pacific Railroad. Money was plen- 
tiful and business was good. Tacoma's pop- 
ulation was about 4,000 and growing rapidly. 
Charles B. Wright, the Philadelphia entrepre- 
neur, had great plans for the small, western 
railroad city and was negotiating with the 
City Council. New Tacoma had a great future! 

Brooklynite George Plummer wrote the following 
letters from his office to his eldest son, nineteen 
year-old Fred, a budding civil engineer in New Or- 
leans, Louisiana. 


Office of Alden Sampson & Sons 
Manufacturers of 
Floor Oil Cloths 
58 & 60 Read Street 
New York, N.Y. 


My dear Son, 


March 24, 1884 


I wrote you so hurriedly on Sat. that I did not 
have time to touch upon the subject of most concern 
to yourself & me. The reports that have reached me 
through the press of damage done by floods & the 
breaking down of levees would indicate that the Govt 
must expend very soon large amounts of money & em- 
ploy a heavy force to repair the very serious injury 
done in various directions. As you defer to my ad- 
vice in the matter, it seems to me that having made 
a record & friends at the South who can be of bene- 
fit to you in your chosen vocation it would be bet- 
ter to seek business for the present where you are. 


359 


in that line, if possible. I know you feel the 
same way, as you allude to State and other survey- 
ing parties going out from N.O. So long as your 
health keeps good I would "stick." The colony for 
Wash. Ter. will not go out until May. Before I 
write again I will see Mr. Hassell & talk further 
with him. If you could connect with a surveyor 
engineer already established in Tacoma that is the 
thing for you to do, in case you have to abandon 
N. Orleans. Did you ever write to Horace Howe? 

If not, I advise you to do so. 


How we al 1 
come when we 
keeps about. 


long to see you & look for the day to 
may. Mama has not^ been well, but 

Love from Papa 


Another letter from Mr. Plummer's office: 


My dear Son, 


March 28th 1884 


We read long accounts in the daily newspapers of 
the havoc made by the floods among the levees re- 
sulting in so much loss & suffering & we wonder if 
all this is to open your way to position, with the 
U.S. Govt or otherwise. I wish if you have any 
definite plans for the future, you would give 
some detail of them in your letters. 

Do you find any congenial friends in New Orleans, 
with whom you can pass an evening socially & agree- 
ably? I trust so. And also that they are of a 
sort your good sense will approve. In my letters 
to you, I have said little or nothing in this di- 
rection, such is my confidence in your excellent 
judgement in these matters. Do you meet any ladies 
or seek their society? I would advise that you 
should & it is the best advice I can give you. 

It is 5 months since you left home, and the gap 
left by your departure is not yet filled . Howard 
has to write constantly now, for Mr. C. in the 


360 


office. Henry is still with Uncle Joshua & is 
much liked. Ernest goes into a new suit next 
week. Sidney is a good boy & is learning fast at 
school. Of little Edith, you can imagine every- 
thing that is sweet & cunning. Mama finds her an 
armful. All send love. 

Affy, Papa 

The three older Plummer boys left school as 
youngsters to learn in the work world. Howard, 
from age 12, was employed as office boy for Edward 
D. Candee, in a suspender manufacturing business. 
Henry worked for their Uncle Joshua and Fred left 
high school to work as an errand boy in a whole- 
sale house in the dry goods district of New York 
City. 

During April, an important decision-making peri- 
od, the senior Mr. Plummer paid a visit to Rev. 

John A. Paddock. He was in Brooklyn then to raise 
funds for Annie Wright Seminary and gather his 
children for the trip to their home in New Tacoma. 
He had been a pastor in the eastern city for 25 
years and was then the Episcopal Missionary Bishop 
to Washington Territory with residence in New Ta- 
coma. 

His close association with Tacoma, and especially 
millionaire Charles B. Wright, gave Bishop Paddock 
special awareness of future opportunities for Fred 
in the Northern Pacific Railroad's Terminus City. 

With what he believed was reliable information 
from numerous sources, Mr. Plummer instructed his 
son to leave Louisiana and go to New Tacoma in 
Washington Territory for civil engineering and no 
other place for no other job. 

It was determined that with Fred's training and 
recent experience in the South he would have no 
difficulty obtaining a position surveying for the 
city's gas and water works projects backed by Mr. 
Wri ght. 


361 


Dear Papa » SLUT" S ' S ' **' ^ ‘ Jd " e 9 ’ 1884 

The RR being washed away I had to take this 
steamer at Algiers (LA) - my ticket allows of a 
steerage passage. This is a very small boat anH 
one of the old style with paddleVels, and roUs 

e?s bit'she ?s C ?nm?'‘ e , t M n the ,ar9e ocean 5tea '"- 
. S h „ 7 he ,s com fortable and the meals are good. 

We have 17 passengers aboard, 7 of them ladies 

only one of whom is "apparent" and a parent Will 

not reach Galveston until tomorrow. 

I am well and have not been seasick. 

Love to all, Fred 


Dear Papa and Mama, 


Camp Rice June 13, 1884 


, L h e /, t Houstori on , 7;15 a.m. and after riding through 

Antonio LefVt In' - V!! 0 ' e day ' arHved at San 
Antomo. Left 6.40 and here I am at Camp Rice 50 

miles this side of El Paso and am in a bad fix 

The road is washed away for 26 miles. 

iif^r^r- , "' nP ’A Here 15 anotte '- »reak 
w e e ^ ^ 

San KTo N°e°w Tacoma!' hSVe t0 9 ° Steera!)e fr0m 

San F. June 15, 1884 Arrived here O.K. I got on 

an express train and got here sooner than I thouqht 
I would in spite of the breaks. tnougnt 

a "day 31 ” ^ Exchange Hotel • Cheap and good. $1.00 

Love to all , Fred 


362 


On S.S. Wilmington off Cape Blanco 

June 21, 1884 


Dear Papa and Mama, 


I had to take passage on this steamer in the 
steerage as I was short of funds. 

June 17 in the afternoon, I went to Oakland - 
quite a pretty place. The railroads run free and 
a person can ride for nothing. I think that is a- 
bout the queerest thing I have struck yet. I took 
the cable cars to the Cliff House at the Golden 
Gate. There is a beautiful view of the Pacific 
Ocean from the cliff. 


San Francisco is very like New York. The most 
remarkable thing I saw was the cable car system. 

A person can for 5 cents go to any part of the ci- 
ty at a much greater speed than by horsecar. They 
are perfect. 

I spent my only evening in Chinatown. The peo- 
ple do not go to see the town much unless it is 
with a policeman. I wasted a half dollar to go to 
the Chinese Theater, and it was worth it. Of 
course, I could make nothing out of the play. I 
spoke to some of the Chinamen and they said "very 
good sing-song," and much finer than our operas. 

I didn’t agree with them, but didn't say so, for 
fear they might carve me. I was afraid they had 
never tasted Brooklynite and might want to. 

The next day I bought my ticket for Seattle and 
got my baggage down on board the steamer. The ste- 
erage is not as bad as it might be. I take a smal- 
ler steamer from Seattle to Tacoma. When I get to 
Vancouver Island I will be out of the U.S. for the 
first time - won't I? This steamer is very slow 
and it will take about 7 days to reach Seattle, 
but then there is lots to see on the way. There 
are lots of whales, sharks, seal, sealions, and a 
flock of large sea-gulls near the ship all the 
time. It is very lonesome on the Northern Pacific 
and we have only passed one vessel. Lately the sea 


363 


has been very high and we had some water on decks. 

Love to all , Fred 

carl^em S h» f H SCi ? a i ed b) ' San Francisco's cable 
ar system, he devoted eight pages and Included 

Us mlchan?fm. ,n " ,S ' eMer t0 the “^crlption of 

°n the morning of June 25, the S.S. Wilmington 
lpr k !h- ln p ea J tle - That afternoon aboard a smal- 

et'was 1 just *"f i f tjTcents ! " "" TaC °” a - h,S >° ck - 


Dear Papa & Mama, 


New Tacoma W.T. 
July 13 Sunday 1884 


Papa's telegram reed 2 hours after being sent. 

With thanks to Mr. Webster I shall not use the 

Bl sh ?P because I know the Bishop as 
well as it is possible for me to, am perfectly 

free with him and his family and know him as well 
as I do my room-mate. I may show it to him but he 
will regard it as a good joke. 

The steamer Wilmington was undoubtedly slow but 

hnavllv Sl WaS mi,es not 650 and the " was 
heavily laden, and heavy seas, and head winds 

Then we were about 15 hours at Victoria, 4 at Port 

Townsend and then again the English doctor did not 

seem to like to board the ship. They were not even 

the r fort S ' Tht Sa ^ te V wice and got no answer from 
the fort. They did not even dip their flag. 

I suppose that you received the papers with my 
writings in brackets? Will not send any more be- 

CdU ^ e ^J am n0t W1th them an y mor e. Mr. Radebauqh 
said there was not enough going on to warrant the 
keeping of a town reporter. He is about right, 

f^r t0 have kept at U for a month 

for what I would learn, although the salary would 

hardly support me. I shall try, try again Sy 


364 


tide table may be worth something. If so, it may 
be worth something to me to sell to the paper that 
will pay best for it. 

Papa speaks of my travels ...I do consider my- 
self somewhat favored. ..I have seen a little. ..I 
have kept my eyes open and have a fair idea of the 
South and Far West... and some of the wonders they 
contain... I have mixed with Indians, Chinese, Mex- 
ican, French, Spanish... I have been in storms on 
the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf. 

In all my conversations I have use for what I 
have seen. One who has seen can say, "It is so 
and so," and they who stay at home must say, "I 
have read it is so and so." I tell you... a man 
who stays at home and reads cannot form any idea 
of the size, beauty, changes in scenery, wilder- 
ness, of this continent. 

As for the news going on, the papers will inform 
you. 

Papa's check will be very acceptable as I am 
very short but it won't last long. I will soon be 
at work. My board is 25<t a meal and room $5.00 a 
month. The $9.00 that I got at the Ledger will 
not last long as I have got to have a hat, shoes 
soled, etc. 

Love to all, Fred G.P. 

There are lots of pretty girls out here. 

Fred explained to his family the delay at Port 
Townsend, the port of embarkation/debarkation. Each 
vessel had to be checked to make sure it met public 
health standards. 

Fred wrote an inspirational letter to 14-year-old 
Henry Guion, one of his younger brothers. Only a 
portion remains. 

...I would advise you and How not to spend your 


365 


money studying man and his works in Europe but 
take a look at Southern and Western forests - the 
canons of the Grande and Colorado etc and you will 
see things that you could not forget if you wanted 

t [ y \ There 1s not a better spot on earth for 
the hunter or fisherman than Puget Sound - so say 
they who know. y 

Love to all , Fred 


Dear Papa, 


N.T. W.T. Aug 20/84 


Reed letter Aug 8 with check. 


Mr. DeR work will not bring anything immedi- 
Itelx I have taken a week off to look aroundlnd 

try again. Have changed my ad in the Ledger but no 
answers - over a month now. 


Mr. Travers - the supt of the Baptist S.S. offers 
me a large profit on life insurance - % of the mon- 

tfif aid I th L offer is a 9 00d one, but my friends 
tell me that nothing can be done in that line - but 

I may as well try while looking around. 


A Geological party is going out soon, 
to get on the list. May succeed. 


am trying 


Mr. Hayward is selling out at auction today. 

Will send Howard a Bat that I stuffed. 

Lots of Indians in town. I am learning the lang- 
uage as it is necessary in this town. They do not 
speak English. 


Am out somewhere every evening late. Tonight is 
an exception. 

Love to all, Fred 

Fred advertised for two months in the Ledger for a 
position as clerk or salesman, signing his ad, "Muc- 

Iu 9e ’ 11 1 ^ er chan 9i n 9 it to, "Dongor," reversing 
the syllables of his middle name, Gordon 


366 


New Tacoma August 24/84 

Dear Papa and Mama, 

There is very little to write about. The town 
is as dead as usual, but, things do not look quite 
as dark blue as of late. It may seem strange to 
you that in a town of 5000 there could be abso- 
lutely nothing going on that would give a man a 
chance. Mr. Hayward will be east soon and will 
say what I may not be able to convey by writing. I 
never saw a man so completely disgusted with a 
place as he is. But still I say, what I said be- 
fore, that I think it will be best for me to stick 
here if I can do it without starving. 

Aug 26 

Had to go to church and stop writing. Was busy 
yesterday among the merchants trying to get some- 
thing to do. . . 

Bob Ingersoll lectured here last night. Fay Tem- 
pleton played the "Mascotte" on Monday and will 
play Girafle - Girafla Saturday. I saw the Mascot- 
te gratis. 

The work on the water system has not yet commenc- 
ed. Some work is being done on the gas works but 
only Irishmen are employed so far digging ditches. 
Mr. Bean will give me a chance if anything comes 
up that I can do. 

I wrote Jack K. did not advise him to come here 
at clerking until spring, but told him what he 
could do if he comes here now. 

Everybodys mail comes just New Tacoma. There are 
no numbers on the houses. The P.M. knows everybody. 


Lots of Indians in town. It looks funny to see a 

stout little Chinook with a long Prince Albert coat 

on and no pants. Some strange sights to be seen in 

the Far West. . , ,,, ... 

Love to all, Fred 


367 


Mr. Clarence 0. Bean was the civil engineer in 
charge of surveying for the city's utility pro- 
jects. 


N.T. W.T. Aug 27 '84 

Dear Papa, 

Am not so very badly off but see that I will be 
unless I get something to do very soon. Am in 
debt about 5 dollars to the Restaurant and rent is 
due on the 1st of the month. Washing averaqes a- 
bout 40<t a week. 

I have gone so far as to try and get employment 
as mechanic at the car shops, but failed - I am 
told that if I had succeeded that it would seri- 
ously affect my social relations. But I don't 
think that the Bishop, Mr. Wells, Mr. McLafferty 
and other sensible people would look at a matter 
of that kind, and I don't care to know anybody 
who would. 

As to what I have earned - that foots up to 9 
dollars from the Ledger. Mr. DeR s work may not a- 
mount to anything for some time and I had better 
not count on it. Mr. Ouimette says that biz 
starts up in the middle of Sept, and all I can do 
is keep alive and jump into the first place that 
opens and that is what I am doing. 

Have too new things on hand today - will try and 
get on a hop farm and will see the contractor on 
the Cascade division who will be in town today. 

Love to all, Fred 

Fred interviewed Mr. Nelson Bennett at the Taco- 
ma Hotel for the Ledger. Bennett and Mr. Montgom- 
ery of Albina, Oregon were two of three bidders 
for contracts on the construction of the Northern 
Pacific Railroad's Cascade Division. 


368 


Mr. DeR S may have been Henry de Raasloff, editor 
manager of "Wacht am Sunde" - a German weekly news- 
paper. 

Mr. Wells was rector of St. Luke's Memorial 
Church and Mr. MacLafferty was pastor of the First 
Baptist Church. 

Fred found that year just the one opportunity in 
his chosen field. He worked briefly on a city 
survey establishing the lines for Tacoma Avenue 
when it was still a wilderness. 

N.T. W.T. Oct 1, 84 

Dear Papa & Mama, 

Reed check. 

Howard: Don't want any suspenders to give away - 
can't afford it. Showed Mrs. Holt Mama's picture - 
she's quite in love with Mama. 

Mama: Am not getting down hearted. Think I had 
better stay here through thick and thin. Jack 
won't be here for a month or more. Had a situa- 
tion offered him in Portland while he was there and 
took it - which was the best thing he could have 
done for he would have had trouble here. You know 
everybody advised me to make Tacoma m^ destination 
and not be influenced by offers on the way. I 
thought otherwise, but the advice may be good after 
all, for things are beginning to look better. 

Mr. Montgomery has not yet been heard from. Don't 
like his looks. Nothing new from Driver - the geo- 
ologist, and no more surveying for a time. My 
friend disappointed me about the job for Sat. after- 
noon at the rink. A mean trick. See enclosed re- 
garding Mr. Bennett. 

Papa: Am in debt 5 dolls earned $14 & the $10 
will pay bill of board for Sept. Sharff will help 
me on rent ($5). I have reed 70 dollars to date 


369 


according to your letters. 

Love to all, Fred 

Mr. E. J. Stier, the jeweler, and Mr. Samuel 
Slaughter leased the Alpha Opera House at 11th 
and Pacific as a roller skating rink. It became 
a very popular place with the young people. 

Jack, Fred's New York friend, may have been one 
of those who was way-layed while enroute to Ta- 
coma. Special agents representing the railroad 
were sent out from Portland by rail to Pasco and 
Spokane to travel westward and divert, with lies 
if necessary, travelers to New Tacoma. Competi- 
tion between Portland, Tacoma and Seattle was ex- 
tremely intense at that time. 


Dear Papa, 

Rec'd money O.K. 


Olympia W.T. 
Oct 31 1884 


This is an A-l thing for me if I succeed. It 
will keep me here until next spring. Dr. Nevius, 
who is the Botanist, Diatomis and Scientist in 
Natural History is the Episcopal Clergiman here, 
and I live at his parsonage on reccomendation 
from Tacoma. So far we have talked read and ex- 
amined specimens until midnight every night. Then 
the Agassiz Ass'n. is here, he is the curator and 
I attend the meetings. There are some splendid 
people here and I shall move in the best society 
of the place, as soon as I can afford to buy the 
clothes. It costs me 8% dollars a week to live 
and I earn 12 - But I have money to pay in Tacoma 
that will put me behind some. I have a nice of- 
fice, but am busy. Everything was out of gear 
here. I found $239 worth of bills uncollected. 

I have been here 4 days and have everything 
straight. Have just written 14 sheets this size 
for publication tomorrow. Will send you one of 
todays papers. The town is very much like Tacoma 


370 


& Seattle. 

Love to all, Fred 

With aid of Bishop Paddock, Fred's life was 
spared. Fred found a satisfactory arrangement in 
Olympia. He also obtained a position writing for 
the Washington Standard newspaper. 

The Agassiz Association was a large internation- 
al organization whose purpose was the promotion of 
nature study among youth. 

Olympia W.T. Nov. 20 '84 

Dear Papa, 

I am doing all right financially - that is - 
fairly, I can just get along. Do not need any 
clothes or anything except $1,000,000,000,000 that 
you may have about your pockets somewhere. 

Went to Tacoma on press tickets. Saw everybody 
and went to church. Izzie Holt is sick. Have 
paid all my debts there except $5.00. I will soon 
be able to lay in a new lot of clothes. Tacoma 
looks just as it did, of course - dull. 

Lectured last eve in the Hall on the "Moon and 
the eclipses" Dr. Nevius worked a Magic Lantern. 

Did you know that I was to lecture on that until 
2 p.m. but managed to talk l*s hours. Very good 
audience, about 40 ladies in it. It was got up by 
the Agassiz Assn, and they cleared $20. The girls 
said it was just to good for anything. Will send 
you the papers report of it. 

Reed A.A.S. Lecture. 

If it won't cost much will you send me that book 
of mine on astronomy in the closet that has a pic- 
ture map of the moon in the front. 

Love to all, 

Fred 


371 


Fred remained in Olympia until spring. He was 
East between April and August completing his en- 
gineering education in New York, Brooklyn and Bos- 
ton. On August 19 he writes about Washington Col- 
lege. It was the Episcopal Military Preparatory 
boarding and day school "for men and boys" located 
where Central School stands today. 


Dear Papa, 


N. Tacoma W.T. 
August 19/85 


Have just had a talk with the Bishop and the 
result at least as good as I expected. The school 
will open on the 1st of January. Mr. Parker has 
chosen a Mr. Tait and Mr. Mead and myself. I am 
to have the sciences to teach as soon as practica- 
ble which will soon after be - that is my salary 
will not commence until then, but the school will 
be my home in the mean time without expense to me. 

Bishop wants me to make a trip east for the pur- 
pose of getting specimens, books, etc and money 
for the school. Do you think there are many peo- 
ple among our friends who would give books, instru- 
ments, or money to a thing of that sort? That is 
enough to make it pay the Bishop. He offers me 
$50 each way. He risks the first $50 and if I do 
well will give $50 more to help me get back I 
can go emigrant for $69.50. So I will have to 
earn $25 dollars more. I am now on steady on the 
Ledger. The other paper - the "News" today offer- 
ed me a permanent position if I would leave the 
Ledger. 

As soon as I get into the college I shall open 
out as an expert. I have not aspired to it but 
have been drawn into it. Only yesterday I was 
called out by a doctor to assist in a little micro- 
scopic examination. I have the second best instru- 
ment in town and the best set of apparatus and dis- 
secting tools. I made them myself. The doctor did 
not hesitate to ask my advice as he knew nothing 


372 


about the management or in fact what he saw. I 
think that I wi 11 make my 8 months study pay me 
something after this. 

Let me know what you think of my trying to make 
the trip east, as soon as you can. I may be able 
to catch up and perhaps get ahead a little in 6 
weeks or two months and then spend 2 months at 
home. 

Love to all, Fred 

CURATOR'S OFFICE 
THE AGASSIZ ASSOCIATION 
TACOMA AVE. AND NORTH FIRST STREET 

Tacoma, W.T. Dec. 10 1886 

My dear Mama, 

I have good news for you, too - but you must 
keep it quiet, as I am not ready to act yet. Prof. 
Tait has offered me the Presidency of Washington 
College and says he will take second place if I will 
accept it. Just think of it! Your boy as 

Inspector of Levees at 19 
In charge of Govt, camp 19 
Civil Engineer at 20 

on Wash, Coll, faculty 21 
on Seminary " 22 

Pres, of Wash. Coll, at 22 

Quite a record, isn't it, for a public school 
education. But , I have declined with thanks, and 
gave as my reason that I would be under no such 
rector as Bishop P. I told Prof. Tait that I would 
take it if trustees were appointed and the manage- 
ment taken from the Bishop who has made a fool of 
himself and disgusted everybody. He thinks it may 
be done, so you may see me there yet. My classes 
are now twice as large as any of the others, shall 
have to enlarge the lecture room next term. 

My 65th lecture will be on cotton next Saturday, 
public invited. 


373 


Have been asked to deliver a course of lectures 
on astronomy before the Chatauqua of Puget Sound. 
May do it - may not. 

Shall spend Christmas week at Olympia at Mrs. 
Hansard's. She sent me an invitation. 

I give a microscopic entertainment to the elite 
of the city in 10 days. Want to come. 

Sent some "Natures" to you. 

Love to all, Fred 


Fred founded and edited the Tacoma Agassiz As- 
sociation's little four-page newspaper, "Nature." 


Dear Papa, 


May 24, 1887 


Matters at the College are very much mixed up 
and undecided. I had a long confidential confab 
with the Bishop. He will endeavor to get a princi- 
pal who is worth something for next year. I shall 
not be here unless he does. The Seminary and lec- 
turing will support me well and give me plenty of 
time for study. As it is now I have barely time 
to breath. A large photo of the College entrance 
was taken with 2/3 of the students included. Will 
try and send you one. 

Am completing my arrangements for the trip to 
the summit of Mt. Tacoma. It has not been done for 
14 years and no observations have been taken. 


Love to all, Fred 

In the climbing party, beside Professor Frederick 
G. Plummer and Maj. Albert Whyte, his lawyer friend, 
were Mollie Male and Fay Fuller, young public school 
teachers, and Mrs. Lou Longmire, undoubtedly their 
chaperone, and Caine Longmire, their guide. 


374 


Only Fred and the Major attempted to reach the 
higher elevations. They climbed to heights of 
twelve thousand and thirteen thousand feet and 
made an overnight camp on Anvil Rock at ninety- 
five hundred feet. The Major nearly froze to 
death during the night but Fred was comfortable 
and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He used 
his instruments to calculate heights and distances 
for mapping the southern slopes. Since conditions 
were unfavorable, the men failed to reach the sum- 
mit. The two climbers at Plummers Camp that day 
could not know but twenty-six years later (1913) 
a peak south of them in the Tatoosh Range would be 
named Plummer Peak in honor of Fred. 

The first real opportunity for Fred to enter the 
field of civil engineering came during the winter 
of 1887 when county surveyor, T.R. Wilson suffered 
an illness. As his replacement, on December 20, 
Fred began surveying for Pierce County Auditor 
Edward Huggins in Ouimette's 2nd Addition. 

With careful management, Fred's financial posi- 
tion improved greatly. He was out of the red and 
had much more than "fifty cents" in his pocket. 

With confidence that Washington Territory had a 
prosperous future, he purchased a piece of real 
estate in Orting, an area he had surveyed. It was 
just the first of many parcels he would buy. 

New Tacoma no longer seemed dull and dead to 
Fred. He was invited to all the big parties. His 
name and that of Emily Ruth Sherman, an Annie 
Wright Seminary student and his future bride, were 
on the invitation list of young Fanny Paddock's 
annual New Year's Eve party. 

Fred's 17-year-old brother, Henry, came to Tacoma 
in 1887. He made a trip to Alaska. Howard, my 
grandfather, arrived in January, 1889. Howard sent 
the following letter home to his parents in Brook- 
lyn, who were preparing for their move west. 


375 


OFFICES OF 

GARRETSON, WOODRUFF, PRATT & CO., 
IMPORTERS, JOBBERS AND COMMISSION MERCHANTS IN 
DRY * GOODS, * NOTIONS, * & * FANCY * GOODS 
1305 and 1307 PACIFIC AVENUE 


Tacoma, W.T. 3 1889 

Dear Papa, 

Well, I suppose you know that I have jumped off 
the dock of boyhood today (8th) and am now swim- 
ming upstream with my head up; I feel about four 
years older than I did yesterday. Wish that I was 
in a position to give a "Freedom Party." Shall 
have a small racket tonight with some of the boys. 
Mrs. Fonda very kindly sent me a book; "Jonathan & 
his continent" by Max O'Rell. 

Grandma Garretson has just been in; she walked 
all the way down from the house about a mile and a 
quarter. She always asks after you all, and wants 
to know when we expect you. Can you not induce 
Selma to come out with you? Servants are very hard 
to get and you may have some trouble. It will be a 
fine thing for Mrs. Jones to come out here; hope 
Mr. Powell has not given up the idea. 

Tell little Edith that I saw the big bear last 
Sunday sitting away up on his perch looking out 
over the bay. 

Excuse me for writing in this hurried and broken 
way, I am very busy. The business is beyond all 
expectations. 


Love to all, 

Howard 

In the winter of 1889, while 500 people a day 
were arriving in Washington Territory, 300 people 
were arriving in Tacoma according to the Northern 
Pacific Railroad report. Each month 150 new stu- 
dents were enrolled in Tacoma's schools. 


376 


After the long trip west aboard the Canadian 
Pacific Railroad in late March, the Plummer fami- 
ly was again united. When George Cook, the Tax 
Assessor, visited April first, they were comfor- 
tably settled at 210 D Street. Father Plummer was 
not yet at work but Sidney had joined Howard in 
clerking at Garretson's wholesale house and Henry 
was a draughtsman in Fred's engineering offices. 
Young Ernest and little Edith were home with Mama, 
not yet enrolled in school. 

The Tacoma Daily Ledger informed the community 
of their presence when it reported Wednesday, 

May 8, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Plummer and family 
enjoyed a pleasant outing on the Sound in the com- 
pany of Rev. and Mrs. Lemuel H. Wells, the Geology 
Class of Annie Wright Seminary, and others. The 
group travelled aboard the steamer, Henry Lynn, to 
the mouth of the Sequalitchew Creek and proceeded 
on foot to the site of the old Fort Nisqually, 
built by Hudson's Bay Company in 1833. They 
searched the shores of Anderson and McNeil Islands 
for geological specimens and visited the Fox Is- 
land Brick Works, returning via Pickering Passage 
to the wharf at 7:00 p.m. 


377 




378 


BIBLIOGRAPHY 


Plummer Family Collection (privately held) 

Hibben, Paxton, "Henry Ward Beecher - An American 
Portrait," University of Puget Sound Library 

Hunt, Herbert, History of Tacoma , The S. J. Clarke 
Publishing Company, 1916, Vol . 1 

Radebaugh, R . F., Memoirs, non-publ i shed manu- 
script, Northwest Room, Tacoma Public Library 

Spike's Illustrated Description of the City of 
Tacoma 

Tacoma Morning Globe Annual Review, January, 1891 

Seattle Daily Post Intelligencer 

Pierce County Auditor's Land Records, Edward 
Huggins, Auditor 

Pierce County Tax Assessor's Records, 1887 

Pierce County Census, 1889 


379 


380